History of Astronomy From The Roman Empire To The Present, part 18
But it will be remembered that he offered three crucial tests as evidence in support of his theories, and these we have still to examine. They are:
1. That certain irregularities in the movements
of the planet Mercury would be accounted
for by Einstein’s geometry.
2. That because light has weight it would bend
by gravitation as it passed near another
body on its way to the earth, and that this
could be verified by observations taken at
the time of a solar eclipse.
3. That certain lines in the spectrum would be
found to shift.
We have done with mental athletics, and here we have something a little more tangible to deal with.
Of the Third it is said by the Authorities of Astronomy that the observations necessary to prove or disprove such a shifting of the lines in the spectrum would be so extremely difficult that it is practically impossible ever to do it, and therefore it is set aside.
The First is very well handled in an article by T. F. Gaynor in the London Daily Express of Time 6th, 1921.
Mr. Gaynor meets Einstein on his own ground as a good astronomer should, and uses figures which take my breath away ; but, nevertheless, I will leave him to deal with crucial test number 1.
He says that the discovery of Neptune, 75 years ago, by means of Newton’s Law, utterly extinguishes the Einstein theory so far as Mercury is concerned.
Irregularities similar to those of Mercury had been observed in the movements of Uranus, and in 1841 it was thought that these unaccountable movements must be due to the gravitation of some other planet at that time still undiscovered. But I will quote Mr. Gaynor verbatim; “Uranus is 1,800,000,000,000 miles from the sun. Adams and Leverrier, applying Newton’s Law, which, according to Einstein is an exploded theory, located the probable position of the undiscovered planet a thousand million miles still further on in space— and there Dr. Galle, the Berlin astronomer, found it, on September 23rd, 1846.
Thus, 75 years ago, the Newtonian law found a previously unknown planet (Neptune) at a distance of 2,800 millions of miles from the sun, yet Einstein would have us believe that the same law does not hold good with regard to Mercury; which is only 36,000,000 miles from the sun! The “proof” he adduces from the aberration of the orbit of Mercury can be disposed of in a sentence. He has made the elementary blunder of regarding Mercury as globular instead of spheroidal.”
Light and Gravity
There remains now but one last defence of the Theory of Relativity, and that is the statement that light is really matter, and that it is subject to gravitation. (Test No. 2.)
In order to put this to the test, expeditions old British Astronomers were sent to Sobral in North Brazil, and to the island of Principe on the west coast of Africa, to observe the total eclipse of the sun on May 29th, 1919, and the results they obtained seemed to justify Einstein’s main test, so that as a consequence the Royal Astronomical Society held a remarkable meeting at Burlington House on November 6th, 1919 ; and on the next day all the world of astronomy did homage to Einstein.
The results of the eclipse appeared to satisfy the gathering at Burlington House. Sir Frank Dyson, the Astronomer Royal, described the work of the expeditions, and convinced the meeting that the results were definite and conclusive. Dr. Crommelin explained that the purpose of the expeditions was to test whether the light of the stars that are nearly in a line with the sun is bent by its attraction, and if so, whether the amount of bending is that indicated by the Newtonian law of gravitation, viz. : seven-eighths of a second at the sun’s limb, or the amount indicated by the new Einstein Theory; which postulates a bending just twice as great. The results of the observations were 2.08 and 1.94 seconds respectively. The combined result was 1.98 seconds, with a probable error of about 6 per cent. This was a strong confirmation of Einstein’s Theory, which gave a shift of 1.75 seconds.
The fourth dimension was discussed, and it appeared that Euclidian straight lines could not exist in Einstein’s space. All lines were curved, and if they travelled far enough they would regain the starting point. Mr. de Sitter had attempted to find the radius of space. He gave reasons for putting it at about a billion times the distance from the earth to the sun, or about sixteen million light-years! This was eighty times the distance assigned by Dr. Shapley to the most distant stellar cluster known. The Fourth Dimension had been the subject of vague speculation for a long time, but they seemed at last to have been brought face to face with it.
Even the President of the Royal Society, in stating that they had just listened to “one of the most momentous, if not the most momentous, pronouncements of human thought,” confessed that no one had yet succeeded in stating in clear language what the theory of Einstein really was. But he was confident that “the Einstein Theory must now be reckoned with, and that our conceptions of the fabric of the universe must be fundamentally altered.”
Subsequent speakers joined in congratulating the observers, and agreed in accepting their results. More than one, however, Professor Newell of Cambridge, hesitated as to the full extent of the inferences that had been drawn, and suggested that the phenomena might be due to an unknown solar atmosphere further in its extent than had been supposed, and with unknown properties.
With such a reception as this it is not surprising that the followers of Copernicus everywhere should be almost willing to believe in Relativity whether they understood it or not; but the Royal Astronomical Society might have been a great deal more careful than they were, as we shall see:
That the Einstein Theories were automatically coming to be regarded as accepted science, is evidenced by the fact that the Astronomer Royal himself introduced them into a public lecture on eclipses which he gave at the Old Vic. in the February of 1921.
Coming to the description of the eclipse of May 29th, a slide was thrown upon the screen to illustrate the result of the observations t h a t were said to verify Einstein’s Theory.
The lecturer described how certain stars which were in the same direction as the sun could, of course, not be seen in the ordinary way in the day time, but when the sun was obscured, as at the time of a total eclipse, they could be seen through a smoked glass or telescope. The exact position of these stars was known to astronomy, but if Einstein’s Theory was correct the light coming from them to the observer would be bent as it passed near the sun, so that they would not appear to be in their true positions. Then he showed how the Einstein Theory was verified; for the stars were observed to be a little further from the sun than their theoretical or true positions. But the Law of Gravitation is “That mutual action between masses of matter by virtue of which every such mass tends toward every other, etc., etc.”
Observe that it tends toward; it attracts; it pulls; therefore— if light was matter, and was affected by the gravitation of the sun, the stars would be seen nearer to the sun ; and not as stated by the lecturer and illustrated on the slide.
In diagram 29 the crosses XX suggest the normal, true, or theoretical positions of the stars with respect to the sun. If Einstein’s theories had been right the stars would be seen nearer to the sun than the crosses, but the Astronomer Royal demonstrated the fact that they were actually further away!
Such was the real result of the solar eclipse of May 29th, 1919. The circumstances had been laid before the Royal Astronomical Society in Burlington House on November 6th, and yet, for some unaccountable reason they failed to perceive that the result was contrary to the Law of Gravitation; and clearly demonstrated the fact that Einstein’s Theory is false.
N.B.— The real cause of the displacement of these stars from their true positions is known to the author, and will be explained in a book sequel to this work; but he does not consider that explanation necessary to the present discussion. Einstein’s Theory is disproved; alternative or no alternative.