The 1919 Eclipse Expedition to test the light-bending prediction of General Relativity remains one of the most famous physics experiments of the 20th century. However, in recent decades it has been increasingly often alleged that the data-analysis of the expedition's leaders was faulty and biased in favor of Einstein's theory. Arthur Stanley Eddington is particularly alleged to have been prejudiced in favor of general relativity. Specifically it is claimed that some of the data, which would have favored the so-called Newtonian prediction, was thrown out on dubious grounds. This paper argues that a close examination of the views of the expedition's organizers, and of their data analysis, suggests that they had good grounds for acting as they did, and that the key people involved, in particular the astronomer Frank Watson Dyson, were not biased in favor of Einstein. It also draws attention to a modern re-analysis of the most important eclipse plates which, though overlooked until now, tends to strongly support the thesis of this paper.
- Pub Date:
- September 2007
- Physics - History and Philosophy of Physics;
- General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology
- 30 pages, to appear in proceedings of the 7th Conference on the History of General Relativity, Tenerife, 2005