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Einstein's Jury : The Race to Test Relativity - Jeffrey Crelinsten

Einstein's Jury

The Race to Test Relativity

Paperback Published: 1st March 2016
ISBN: 9780691171074
Number Of Pages: 432

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Einstein's Jury is the dramatic story of how astronomers in Germany, England, and America competed to test Einstein's developing theory of relativity. Weaving a rich narrative based on extensive archival research, Jeffrey Crelinsten shows how these early scientific debates shaped cultural attitudes we hold today. The book examines Einstein's theory of general relativity through the eyes of astronomers, many of whom were not convinced of the legitimacy of Einstein's startling breakthrough. These were individuals with international reputations to uphold and benefactors and shareholders to please, yet few of them understood the new theory coming from the pen of Germany's up-and-coming theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein. Some tried to test his theory early in its development but got no results. Others--through toil and hardship, great expense, and perseverance--concluded that it was wrong. A tale of international competition and intrigue, Einstein's Jury brims with detail gleaned from Crelinsten's far-reaching inquiry into the history and development of relativity. Crelinsten concludes that the well-known British eclipse expedition of 1919 that made Einstein famous had less to do with the scientific acceptance of his theory than with his burgeoning public fame. It was not until the 1920s, when the center of gravity of astronomy and physics shifted from Europe to America, that the work of prestigious American observatories legitimized Einstein's work. As Crelinsten so expertly shows, the glow that now surrounds the famous scientist had its beginnings in these early debates among professional scientists working in the glare of the public spotlight.      

"In this impressively detailed yet readable scholarly work, Jeffrey Crelinsten examines the history of early attempts by astronomers to put Einstein's theory to the test... As well as casting new light on a neglected aspect of relativity studies, Einstein's Jury provides a fascinating analysis of science in action: the scrupulous weighing of evidence to assay--as far as is humanly possible--the truth of the matter."--Peter D. Smith, Times Literary Supplement "By focusing on astronomers rather than the theoretical physicists more often associated with Einstein, Jeffrey Crelinsten offers new insights... He uses the introduction of the theory of relativity to present a case study of how innovative scientific ideas enter both the scientific community and the consciousness of the general public."--Publishers Weekly "Jeffrey Crelinsten's fascinating Einstein's Jury: The Race to Test Relativity tracks the ways in which one particular community, astronomers, handled Einstein's relativity theories, roughly between 1910 and 1925... Crelinsten has done a great service and deserves our thanks for tracking so beautifully the American astronomical response to relativity between the wars."--Peter Galison, Science "Crisply written and impressively researched... [T]wo elements make Einstein's Jury stand out: First, it looks at astronomers, rather than physicists or mathematicians, providing a focus that comparatively offer a genuinely novel perspective on the question of relativity's reception... It belongs to that rare breed of works that will be of genuine interest and enjoyment to the casual reader while at the same time being required reading for the specialist."--Suman Seth, American Scientist "Einstein's Jury tells a fascinating and largely unknown story of how Einstein's revolutionary ideas on the nature of space and time were received, understood, misunderstood, tested and finally confirmed by astronomers of the day, giving birth to relativistic cosmology."--Alan S.McRae, Mathematical Reviews "Einstein's Jury is a story of true scientific effort and petty human weaknesses and eventualities. It is hard to put down this tale of how American astronomers, equipped with the best instruments in the world, struggled for or against the observational evidence for three experimental consequences of Einstein's theory of general relativity."--Jozsef Illy, Isis "Einstein's Jury is an extremely well researched and readable account of how Einstein's innovative theories were received in the early decades of the twentieth century. The book follows the birth of modern astrophysics from the first trickles off Einstein's pen in 1905 to the emergence of relativistic cosmology in the mid-1930s... Crelinsten's account of Relativity's twenty-year struggle for acceptance by the scientific community is told with all the tension of a well-paced thriller. I have no doubt that professional historians and popular science readers alike will thoroughly enjoy Einstein's Jury."--Gerard McMahon, Astronomy and Space "Crelinsten charts an important but understudied episode in the history of modern physics: the empirical tests of general relativity... Crelinsten is a believer in details. He diligently documents exchanges of ideas, conducts of experiments, and steps of arguments. He utilizes two kinds of sources. Regarding Einstein and other European physicists, Crelinsten relies on published documents and the secondary literatures. To delineate American astronomers' activities, he uses a lot of unpublished archival substances."--Chen-Pang Yeang, University of Toronto Quarterly "Crelinsten is to be congratulated on having made a substantial contribution to our understanding of the reception of general relativity by American astronomers, and the central role they played in placing the theory's astronomical predictions beyond doubt."--Andrew Warwick, British Journal for the History of Science "Crelinsten ... is a good writer, who, without repeating himself, periodically sums up his discussion and sets things up for the next section so that we always know what to look forward to and are reminded of what we have just learned... I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in how revolutionary scientific ideas find acceptance within the scientific community."--Naomi Pasachoff, Metascience

List of Illustrations xi
List of Tables xv
Preface xvii
Introduction xxi
Notation Convention for Angular Measure xxv
Abbreviations xxvii

PART ONE: 1905-1911
Early Encounters with Relativity 1

CHAPTER ONE: Einstein and the World Community of Physicists and Astronomers 3
Einstein Enters the World Stage 3
The Astronomy Community 7
The Astrophysics Revolution 9
European Brains and American Money 20
California Astronomy: The Nation's Leader 25

CHAPTER TWO: Astronomers and Special Relativity: The First Publications 28
Henry Crozier Plummer and the Problem of Aberration 28
Edmund Taylor Whittaker: Relativity and the Ether 31
Relativity and Subjectivism 36
Using Relativity to Calculate Planetary Orbits 38
American Astronomers' Introduction to Relativity 40

PART TWO: 1911-1919
Astronomers Encounter Einstein 45

CHAPTER THREE: The Early Involvement, 1911-1914 47
Einstein's Two Predictions 47
Solar Eclipses, ""Vulcan,"" and the Principle of Relativity 50
Einstein Finds an Astronomer 55
Puzzles in the Sun's Spectrum 65
The Russian Eclipse of 1914 76

CHAPTER FOUR: The War Period, 1914-1918 85
Troubles with Freundlich 85
Einstein's Breakthrough 87
The ""Freundlich Affair"" 90
News of Einstein's Breakthrough Spreads 94
Mixed Reactions to a Complicated Theory 98
Constructing the Universe 103
Challenges from Solar Observations 108
Lick Astronomers Go Eclipse Hunting 114
Einstein Liberates Freundlich 119

CHAPTER FIVE: 1919: A Year of Dramatic Announcement 125
Evershed's Earth Effect versus Relativity 125
Delays and Technical Challenges at Lick 126
Enter the British 129
The Lick Verdict: ""Einstein Is Wrong"" 131
The British Declare, ""Einstein Is Right"" 140

CHAPTER SIX: Men of Science Agog 146
Reactions to the British Eclipse Results 146
Pressure from the Press 153
The Role of Arthur Eddington 157
Einstein the National Treasure 160
Hale Realizes His Vision 165

PART THREE: 1920-1925
Astronomers Put Einstein to the Test 169

CHAPTER SEVEN: Tackling the Solar Redshift Problem 171
Evershed and St. John Declare the Case Unresolved 171
""Einstein's Third Victory"" 173
Unraveling Complexities--Evershed versus St. John 175
Evershed Votes for Einstein 179

CHAPTER EIGHT: More Eclipse Testing 183
Personnel Changes at Lick 183
Conflicting Announcements on the Goldendale Results 185
Preparations for the Australian Eclipse 194
The 1922 Eclipse: All Eyes on Lick 200

CHAPTER NINE: Emergence of the Critics 213
Reactions to the Lick Results 213
T.J.J. See versus the Lick Observatory 216
An Antirelativity Coalition in the East 225
The Ether Attempts a Comeback 231

CHAPTER TEN: The Debate Intensifies 236
Another Chance to Test Einstein 236
Mount Wilson and Lick Vote for Einstein 241
The Antirelativity Campaign Gains Momentum 243
Confrontation 252
A New Line of Evidence to Test Einstein 257

PART FOUR: 1925-1930
Final Acceptance 263

CHAPTER ELEVEN: Relativity Triumphs 265
The 1925 Eclipse: Dissension in the Antirelativity Coalition 265
The Relativity Debate circa 1925 269
Announcements for and against the Ether 273
Announcement of the Sirius B Results 277
John A. Miller and the Eclipse Tests 282
Dayton C. Miller and the Ether Drift 287
The 1928 Climax: Three More Pronouncements 290
Reluctant Acceptance 296

CHAPTER TWELVE: Silencing the Critics 300
Charles Lane Poor versus the Lick Observatory 300
Antirelativists Rally in the East 307
The Final Showdown 310

EPILOGUE: The Emergence of Relativistic Cosmology 315

How Scientists Accept Theories 321
Astronomers' Reception of Relativity 323
Relativity and Us 324

Notes 327
Bibliography 365
Index 385

ISBN: 9780691171074
ISBN-10: 0691171076
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 432
Published: 1st March 2016
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.2  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.6
Edition Number: 1