How the solar eclipse of May 29, 1919, helped comparatively unknown Einstein's theory of general relativity dislodge Newton's model of classical mechanics from the lofty zenith of theoretical physics.
Human presence on earth has undeniably no purpose. If our planet disappears, nothing will alter in the universe. But we humans have left a huge footprint on the ability of the Universes to decipher itself.
At its introduction in 1915, Einstein proposed three tests of the general theory of relativity: the "anomalous" precession of the perihelion of Mercury, the bending of light in gravitational fields, and the gravitational redshift. The precession of Mercury was already known; experiments showing light bending in line with the predictions of general relativity was found in 1919.* t was Einstein's teacher, Hermann Minkowski, who suggested space-time, in a 1908 essay. Though most of us link space-time with Albert Einstein, who proposed special relativity in 1905**.
U.S. will be treated to a total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 that will glower the nation as it progresses starting in Oregon to ending in South Carolina. This would be a great occasion for scientists to once again re-experiment the trailblazing experiment that was carried out during a total solar eclipse on May 29, 1919, exactly 98 years ago, and helped confirm comparatively unknown Einstein theory of general relativity's four pioneering papers (published in 1915 and was met with utmost cynicism) over Sir Isaac Newton's model of classical mechanics formulated in his 1687 book "Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica" that reigned supreme until then. Deprived of the solar eclipse experimental test by Sir Arthur Eddington Einstein's idea might have suffered indeterminately until proven. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse_of_May_29,_1919
Einstein and Newton theories deviated on the effect of gravity on light. Classical Newtonian physics envisaged that it is the gravity of a star that can deflect the track of a photon, Einstein observed this just as a rudimentary guess, he formulated that it was not the gravity of the star that deviated the photon but the star shaped a bend in space, sort of like how a person standing on a trampoline creates a curve in the surface. The photon merely follows the curvature, photon always traveled in a straight line; it's the bending of space-time that created the bend. Gravity is just an indicator or outcome of the curvature of space.
Newton's view of the universe was that space is "inert or static /inactive." Whereas the key doctrine of Einstein general relativity is that space is not motionless. The movement of objects can alter the structure of the space.
Einstein formulated and reasoned that space has another dimension time that creates a universe wide "fabric" called space-time. Object travel through this fabric that is warped, bent by the mass and motion of object within space-time. All masses originate a bend of space-time, though the consequence is delicately limited. Testing Einstein's then was impossible as it necessitated very colossal objects, like stars. Astronomers now looking at deep space with the help of Hubble observe huge objects like galaxies and how the bend in space-time modify the track of transient photons in an outcome called gravitational lensing. The light from objects that lie beyond the massive object literally appears in a different location in the sky due to the curve of the space-time.
Sir Arthur Eddington helped Einstein to prove what was still a bizarre yet powerful theory and they both realized that they could experiment to test the theory when the 1919 eclipse shall take place (a total solar eclipse is caused by the moon that orbits directly in front of the sun, completely blocking the light from the sun) and test Einstein's theory, the astronomers would need to study the positions of background stars close to the sun's peripheral edge.
Sir Frank Watson Dyson, Astronomer Royal of Britain, had conceived series of experiment in 1917, that plotted the positions of background stars close to the sun's peripheral edge during an eclipse, Sir Eddington decided to use the carry out similar experiments. Eddington's planned voyages to the tropics of Brazil and to the island of Principe, off the west coast of Africa, where the total eclipse visible for the 1919 eclipse was one of the lengthiest of the 20th century, crossing around 6 minutes, ample time for astronomers to measure the relative locations of stars in the Hyades cluster that was helpfully situated near the solar limb at the time.
Eddington precisely measured during the 1919 eclipse the positions of background stars close to the sun's limb and then compared with their normal positions in the sky, the effects of warped space-time was observed (the warped space-time deflected the starlight by a minuscule amount) beyond what Newton’s classical mechanics had predicted, this test confirmed general relativity theory, and turn the view of the Newtonian universe on its head. The warping of space-time by the sun's mass was real and Newton's inert space had been superseded by a new theory. On Nov. 7, 1919, the New York Times published the news Einstein became a household name since.
This is the story of how the Solar eclipse of May 29, 1919, helped comparatively unknown Einstein theory of general relativity four pioneering papers ( published in 1915 - met with utmost cynicism) dislodge Newton's model of classical mechanics (formulated in his 1687 book "Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica" that reigned supreme until then) from the lofty zenith of the theoretical physics.
*With increasing precision measurements done in subsequent tests, and astrophysical measurement of the gravitational redshift was claimed to be measured in 1925, although measurements sensitive enough to actually confirm the theory were not done until 1954. A program of more accurate tests starting in 1959 tested the various predictions of general relativity with a further degree of accuracy in the weak gravitational field limit, severely limiting possible deviations from the theory. https://www.space.com/37018-solar-eclipse-proved-einstein-r…
**Space-time is a mathematical model that joins space and time into a single idea called a continuum. This four-dimensional continuum is known as Minkowski space.* (Einstein, Albert and Infeld, Leopold 1938. The evolution of physics: from early concept to relativity and quanta) Combining these two ideas helped cosmology to understand how the universe works on the big level (e.g. galaxies) and small level (e.g. atoms).His concept of Minkowski space is the earliest treatment of space and time as two aspects of a unified whole, which is the essence of special relativity. He hoped this new idea would clarify the theory of special relativity.Minkowski spacetime is only accurate at describing constant velocity. It was Einstein, though, who discovered the curvature of space-time (gravity) in general relativity. In general relativity, Einstein generalized Minkowski space-time to include the effects of acceleration. Einstein discovered that the curvature in his 4-dimensional space-time representation was actually the cause of gravity. (The 1926 thirteenth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica included an article by Einstein titled "space-time".** (Einstein, Albert, 1926, "Space-Time," Encyclopedia Britannica, 13th ed.)