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Eddington's eclipse and Einstein's celebrity

Philip Ball tells the story of how Arthur Eddington's eclipse observations confirmed general relativity in 1919, and how he brought scientists together after World War One.

Philip Ball's tale is of a solar eclipse 100 years ago observed by Arthur Eddington, a British astronomer who travelled to the remote island of Principe off the coast of West Africa and saw the stars shift in the heavens. His observations supplied the crucial proof of a theory that transformed our notions of the cosmos and turned a German physicist named Albert Einstein into an international celebrity. But this is also a tale of how a Quaker tried to use science to unite countries. The reparations imposed on Germany after the war extended into science too as many in Great Britain and other Allied nations felt that German science should be ostracised from the international community. As a Quaker, Eddington wanted just the opposite: to see peaceful cooperation restored among nations.

Picture: Image of the 1919 Solar eclipse taken by Arthur Eddington (1882-1944), Credit: Science Photo Library

Producer: Erika Wright

Available now

27 minutes

Broadcasts

  • Mon 31 Dec 2018 20:32GMT
  • Mon 31 Dec 2018 21:32GMT
  • New Year's Day 2019 05:32GMT
  • New Year's Day 2019 06:32GMT
  • New Year's Day 2019 07:32GMT
  • New Year's Day 2019 11:32GMT
  • New Year's Day 2019 14:32GMT
  • New Year's Day 2019 18:32GMT
  • Mon 7 Jan 2019 00:32GMT

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