Relativity and the Cosmos
In November of 1919, at the age of 40, Albert Einstein became an overnight celebrity,
thanks to a solar eclipse. An experiment had confirmed that light rays from distant stars
were deflected by the gravity of the sun in just the amount he had predicted in his theory
of gravity, General Relativity. General Relativity was the first major new theory of
gravity since Isaac Newton's, more than two hundred and fifty years earlier.
Einstein became a hero, and the myth building began. Headlines appeared in newspapers all
over the world. On November 8, 1919, for example, the London Times had an article
headlined: "The Revolution In Science/Einstein Versus Newton." Two days later, The New
York Times' headlines read: "Lights All Askew In The Heavens/Men Of Science More Or Less
Agog Over Results Of Eclipse Observations/Einstein Theory Triumphs." The planet was
exhausted with World War I, eager for some sign of humankind's nobility, and suddenly here
was a modest scientific genius, seemingly interested only in pure intellectual pursuits.
What was General Relativity? Einstein's earlier theory of time and space, Special