Today on Discovery Enterprise we present a recent documentary that appeared on the History Channel concerning Albert Einstein.
It presents the extraordinary and remarkable story of Albert Einstein and his decades long battle to prove his Theory of General Relativity amid the violence of the First World War and the tumultuous events of his personal life.
In 1907, Einstein challenged two centuries of scientific belief and Sir Isaac Newton with a mind-boggling theory: Gravity is not pulling you down. Instead, massive bodies like the Sun and the Earth are bending space and time around you, pushing you down. He then had to prove his theory to unconvinced scientists. He figured that light from a distant star, as it passes right next to the sun and the sun’s gravitational field, will be bent. And the only way to see that would be to photograph a total solar eclipse.
Negative of the 1919 solar eclipse taken from the report of Sir Arthur Eddington on the expedition to verify Einstein’s prediction of the bending of light around the sun.
Fiercely competitive astronomers, foremost amongst them Arthur Stanley Eddington, raced each other to various exotic locations around the world to confirm or disprove Einstein’s prediction. Hardships, weather, and war foiled their expeditions until in 1919, first by Eddington and his team at Príncipe and later in 1922, with further confirmation at the Lick Observatory in California, the photographic proof was clearly, and without a doubt, captured. It launched Albert Einstein as a global icon celebrated around the world for his genius–and his humanity.
Author’s note: for those of you interested in the story of the remarkable war time collaboration of Arthur Stanley Eddington and Albert Einstein to prove the theory of General Relativity are invited to view “Einstein and Eddington: The Story of General Relativity” posted on Discovery Enterprise on Tuesday, November 24, 2009.
History Channel – Einstein (2010)