Archive for A.S Eddington

The Observer and the Eclipse

Posted in Books, Talks and Reviews, History, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on May 12, 2019 by telescoper

Not surprisingly, given that the centenary is fast approaching, pieces are appearing in the mainstream media about the 1919 Eclipse Expeditions that first measured the deflection of light by the Sun’s gravitational field. One such article, by Robin McKie, appears in today’s Observer. It’s a nice piece, though it concentrates almost entirely on Eddington’s measurements taken at Principe. In fact it was Crommelin’s measurements from Sobral that proved decisive.

Anyway, the article gives me a (very brief) mention courtesy of the piece I wrote in Nature a few weeks ago:

For many years at Cardiff I ran an undergraduate project in which the students had to reanalyze the measurements from the eclipse expeditions. That is possible because all the necessary star positions are tabulated in the paper by Dyson et al. (1920). It is undoubtedly the case that Eddington had to improvise a bit because of the unexpected problems that arose in the field, but this is actually quite normal. As a famous general put it `No plan of battle survives first contact with the enemy’. I remain convinced that Eddington didn’t do anything dodgy, but you don’t have to take my word for it: if you don’t believe me then go ahead and look at the data yourself! At the very least you will then understand what a difficult experiment this was!

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At It

Posted in Poetry, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on November 18, 2010 by telescoper

Apologies for my posts being a bit thin on original content recently. There’s a lot going on at the moment and it has not been easy to find the time to write at any length. Before too long I hope to be able to get back into the swing of things and maybe even blog about science. Or even do some! In the meantime, however, I couldn’t resist passing on this poem called, At It, by R.S. Thomas. I’ve posted some of his verse on previous occasions, but I only found this one a few days ago and couldn’t resist sharing it, not least because it mentions Sir Arthur Eddington (probably in a reference to one of his popular science books).

I think he sits at that strange table
of Eddington’s. That is not a table
at all, but nodes and molecules
pushing against molecules
and nodes; and he writes there
in invisible handwriting the instructions
the genes follow. I imagine his
face that is more the face
of a clock, and the time told by it
is now, though Greece is referred
to and Egypt and empires
not yet begun.
+++++++++ And I would have
things to say to this God
at the judgement, storming at him,
as Job stormed with the eloquence
of the abused heart. But there will
be no judgement other than the verdict
of his calculations, that abstruse
geometry that proceeds eternally
in the silence beyond right and wrong.


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