x x x v i I N T R O D U C T I O N T O V O L U M E 9
where the final results of the data reduction would be reported. For the photographs
taken with the astrographic lens, Dyson’s Greenwich team found values of either
0.93 or 1.52 arc seconds deflection at the limb, depending on the method of data
reduction. Yet, since the images were found to be out of focus, systematic errors
could not be excluded. Photographs obtained with the 4-inch lens yielded much
more satisfactory results: here the final value was announced to be 1.98 arc sec-
onds, with a probable error of 0.12 arc seconds. Eddington reported a final value of
1.60 arc seconds from the photographs taken at Principe, with a probable error of
0.3 arc seconds.
The mean of the values obtained was very close to Einstein’s prediction of 1.75
arc seconds. As an article in Nature on 13 November reported on the joint meeting,
“It was generally acknowledged at the meeting that this agreement, combined with
the explanation of Mercury, went far to establish his theory as an objective reality.”
Great admiration was expressed by participants for the quality of the work done by
the eclipse teams (Docs. 168 and 185).
While the establishment of the final results took some time, and while news of
the ongoing process reached Einstein and his German colleagues only gradually
through intermediary conduits, the press coverage of the joint meeting of the Royal
Society and Royal Astronomical Society of 6 November 1919 signaled Einstein’s
international rise to fame. The excitement generated in the English scientific com-
munity by the announcement that Einstein’s theory had triumphed over Newton
rapidly spilled over into the English press and fired the imagination of the English
While the German press was slower to respond and did so in less dra-
Einstein acquired great notoriety, attested to by letters he re-
ceived in November and December from friends and admirers, as well as by his
own complaints of having little time to spare, given the demands of reporters and
the burden of responding to a deluge of mail (see Docs. 187 and 295).
Nevertheless, some physicists and astronomers remained skeptical, most vocal
among them being Ludwig Silberstein, who disputed Eddington and Dyson’s con-
clusions. But even he professed great admiration for many elements of Einstein’s
theory (Doc. 348). Lorentz too investigated an alternative explanation of the data.
In Doc. 127, he performed a thorough calculation to show how the observed deflec-
tion might be explained by a refraction of an extended solar atmosphere. For a very
rarefied solar atmosphere, one can still obtain a deflection of the right size at the
limb by assuming that the density gradient is large, so that the atmosphere becomes
rapidly more rarefied with increasing distance from the Sun. But this assumption
then leads to a rapid decline in the deflection as one moves radially away from the
Sun, which is inconsistent with Einstein’s prediction and the observed results.