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Asunto:[debunker] Anomalies in the History of Relativity-04
Fecha:Viernes, 16 de Noviembre, 2001  20:44:53 (-0500)
Autor:illu minati <illu03 @.......com>

 

placement that had been predicted by Einstein, and Sir
Joseph Thomson, President of the Royal Society and Chair of
the meeting, strongly endorsed the results (Thomson, 1919)
The enthusiastic reception of the announcement at the
meeting was matched by an enormously strong reaction by
the general public and, according to one biography of
Einstein (Clark, 1971), “Einstein awoke in Berlin on the
morning of November 7, 1919, to find himself famous.”
Although Folsing (1997, p. 448) has expressed disagreement
with that particular interpretation of the event, there is little
doubt that Einstein rose with spectacular rapidity to world-
wide fame as a direct result of the announcement.
The atmosphere of excitement at the meeting has been
described by Alfred North Whitehead (1926) in the
following words:
It was my good fortune to be present at the meeting of the
Royal Society in London when the Astronomer Royal for
England announced that the photographic plates of the
famous eclipse, as measured by his colleagues in Greenwich
Observatory, had verified the prediction of Einstein that rays
of light are bent as they pass in the neighborhood of the sun.
The whole atmosphere of tense interest was exactly that of the
Greek drama: we were the chorus commenting on the decree
of destiny as disclosed in the development of a supreme inci-
dent. There was dramatic quality in the very staging: the tradi-
tional ceremonial, and in the background the picture of
Newton to remind us that the greatest of scientific generaliza-
tions was now, after more than two centuries, to receive its
first modification. Nor was the personal interest wanting: a
great adventure in thought had at length come safe to shore.

The meeting has also been described in a very interesting
way by Abraham Pais (1982), who identified the day of the
joint meeting as “the day on which Einstein was canonized.”
Pals was obviously very pleased with his comparison of the
meeting to a Congregation of Rites at which a candidate is
considered for canonization in the Catholic Church, and
compared various participants at the meeting to counter-
parts in the Congregation of Rites, using as his reference The
New Catholic Encyclopedia. However, one of his comparisons
was highly inappropriate, namely his comparison of Ludwik
Silberstein to the advocates diaboli, or Devil’s advocate.
Although Silberstein was critical of accepting that the results
superseded Newton’s theory, the circumstances in which his
criticisms were expressed were totally different, in at least
two important respects, from the circumstances in which
the arguments of the Devil’s advocate are expressed in a
Congregation of Rites.
In the first place, it is imperative that the arguments of the
Devil’s advocate be heard before canonization is pronounced,
and Pais’ account gives the impression that Silberstein’s criti-
cisms had been heard before the results were endorsed by the
President of the Royal Society. However, the generally accept-
ed account of the meeting (Thomson, 1919) shows that
Thomson had, to use Pais’ words, “pronounced the canon-
ization” before Silberstein had had a chance to speak.
In the second place, it is the responsibility of the Devil’s
advocate to ensure that canonization does not occur unde-
servedly. In order to fulfill that responsibility, he must be
given full access to all the relevant information required to
make the case for the opposition to canonization. This con-
dition was not fulfilled at the meeting at which the eclipse
results were announced, because it was not possible for
members of the audience to be sufficiently well-informed
about the results that were being announced to make
informed criticism of them. The paper that was eventually
published (Dyson et a!., 1920), which is forty-three pages
long, with copious tables of results, and mathematical analy-
sis, carries the notation “Received October 30,—Read
November 6, 1919.” Also, the issue of Nature dated October 30
carried an announcement of the joint meeting, showing that
the meeting had been arranged before the paper had been
received by the Royal Society. It seems very unlikely, there-
fore, that the paper had received any critical review by inde-
pendent referees before presentation, or that its contents were
available to the audience early enough to be thoroughly stud-
ied. Just after the astronomers had presented their results,
Thomson rose to call for discussion, but before the discussion
actually started, he strongly endorsed the confirmation of
Einstein’s prediction by saying (Thomson, 1919):
It is difficult for the audience to weigh fully the meaning of the
figures that have been put before us, but the Astronomer Royal
and Prof. Eddington have studied the material carefully, and
they regard the evidence as decisively in favour of the larger
value of the displacement. This is the most important result
obtained in connection with the theory of gravitation since
Newton’s day, and it is fitting that it should be announced at a
meeting of the Society so closely connected with him. . . If it is
sustained that Einstein’s reasoning holds good—and it has sur-
vived two very severe tests in connection with the perihelion of
Mercury and the present eclipse—then it is the result of one of
the highest achievements of human thought.

It was that speech that Pais interpreted as the pronounce-
ment of the canonization of Einstein; the remark about “one
of the highest achievements of human thought” has been
widely quoted and has obviously contributed enormously to
the veneration of Einstein and relativity. If we pursue Pais’
comparison of the joint meeting and a Congregation of Rites,
we find another unfortunate feature of the comparison, name-
ly that canonization of a saint by the Pope is infallible and
irrevocable, so that subsequent criticism of the process is futile.
It is unfortunate that Pais, by identifying Silberstein as the
Devil’s advocate, gave the impression that a critical assess-
ment of the eclipse results had been voiced at the joint meet-
ing, and that the criticisms had been answered. Let us now
consider what Silberstein did say in his contribution to the
discussion at that meeting (Thomson, 1919). Although he
could not find fault in the eclipse observations, for the rea-
sons given above, he did point out the fact that the third
main prediction of the general theory, the red-shift of light in
a strong gravitational field, had not been observed. He said:
There is a deflection of the light rays, but it does not prove
Einstein’s theory: it cannot be logically deduced from his theo-
ry as a gravitational effect in the absence of the spectroscop-
ic result. And, as far as we know from St. John’s and
Evershed’s observations, the predicted shift of the spectrum
lines, of the amount exceeding almost 100 times the probable
error of the modern spectroscope (as Prof. Fowler has just
told us), is not obtained. . If the shift remains unproved as at
present the whole theory collapses, and the phenomenon just
observed by the astronomers remains a fact awaiting to be
accounted for in a different way.

Eddington’s reply to Silberstein was described by Earman
and Glymour (1980) as being “mild and irrelevant.” He said:



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