Einstein's Jury is the dramatic story of how astronomers in Germany, England, and America competed to test Einstein's developing theory of relativity. Weaving a rich narrative based on extensive archival research, Jeffrey Crelinsten shows how these early scientific debates shaped cultural attitudes we hold today.
The book examines Einstein's theory of general relativity through the eyes of astronomers, many of whom were not convinced of the legitimacy of Einstein's startling breakthrough. These were individuals with international reputations to uphold and benefactors and shareholders to please, yet few of them understood the new theory coming from the pen of Germany's up-and-coming theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein. Some tried to test his theory early in its development but got no results. Others--through toil and hardship, great expense, and perseverance--concluded that it was wrong.
A tale of international competition and intrigue, Einstein's Jury brims with detail gleaned from Crelinsten's far-reaching inquiry into the history and development of relativity. Crelinsten concludes that the well-known British eclipse expedition of 1919 that made Einstein famous had less to do with the scientific acceptance of his theory than with his burgeoning public fame. It was not until the 1920s, when the center of gravity of astronomy and physics shifted from Europe to America, that the work of prestigious American observatories legitimized Einstein's work. As Crelinsten so expertly shows, the glow that now surrounds the famous scientist had its beginnings in these early debates among professional scientists working in the glare of the public spotlight.
"In this impressively detailed yet readable scholarly work, Jeffrey Crelinsten examines the history of early attempts by astronomers to put Einstein's theory to the test. . . . As well as casting new light on a neglected aspect of relativity studies, Einstein's Jury provides a fascinating analysis of science in action: the scrupulous weighing of evidence to assay--as far as is humanly possible--the truth of the matter."--Peter D. Smith, Times Literary Supplement
"By focusing on astronomers rather than the theoretical physicists more often associated with Einstein, Jeffrey Crelinsten offers new insights. . . . He uses the introduction of the theory of relativity to present a case study of how innovative scientific ideas enter both the scientific community and the consciousness of the general public."--Publishers Weekly
"Jeffrey Crelinsten's fascinating Einstein's Jury: The Race to Test Relativity tracks the ways in which one particular community, astronomers, handled Einstein's relativity theories, roughly between 1910 and 1925. . . . Crelinsten has done a great service and deserves our thanks for tracking so beautifully the American astronomical response to relativity between the wars."--Peter Galison, Science
"Crisply written and impressively researched. . . . [T]wo elements make Einstein's Jury stand out: First, it looks at astronomers, rather than physicists or mathematicians, providing a focus that comparatively offer a genuinely novel perspective on the question of relativity's reception. . . . It belongs to that rare breed of works that will be of genuine interest and enjoyment to the casual reader while at the same time being required reading for the specialist."--Suman Seth, American Scientist
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