x l I N T R O D U C T I O N T O V O L U M E 9
(see Doc. 234) to Nature, thus drawing fire from St.
who remained disap-
proving of the Einstein effect (see Doc.
In a letter to The Observatory,
Edouard Guillaume, an old colleague and a critic of special relativity to whose less
well informed remarks Einstein had patiently replied (Docs. 280 and 305), pointed
out the failures of redshift measurements in an article which immediately drew a
riposte from
Einstein himself coolly foretold Guillaume that “in two
years there will be no more doubts” (Doc. 305). His prediction was remarkably
prescient, forecasting roughly the time when the previously implacable St. John
would reverse his position on the Einstein
But the observational confir-
mation of the gravitational redshift would remain a topic of debate for many years
to come.
Einstein’s confidence in the outcome of his own predictions is a recurring theme
in letters written by close friends and colleagues after the eclipse announcement.
Max Planck (Doc. 121), Heinrich Zangger (Doc. 148), and Paul Epstein (Doc. 136)
all remark upon it. Even the very young seem to have sensed this inclination, as
suggested by Ehrenfest’s description of a drawing made by his daughter, in which
Einstein is depicted sitting calmly amidst the general excitement surrounding the
eclipse, saying, “Oh well—I know it—I did calculate it” (Doc. 175 and
Illustration 6).
According to a much later recollection by Ilse Rosenthal-Schneider, Einstein at
the time casually showed her the famous Lorentz telegram (Doc. 110) and insisted
that even without the observational confirmation he was certain of his theory’s
A letter from Einstein to Schneider, then a student at Berlin Univer-
sity, dated a week earlier and inviting her to visit his house “next week” (Doc. 104),
lends some credence to her claim to have been present shortly after the telegram
arrived. Even if Einstein’s confident attitude on the issue of observational confir-
mation of general relativity may at times have been a pose, many interlocutors
gained the impression that it was genuine. This remarkable certainty, however, does
not indicate indifference to experiment, nor that Einstein at the time regarded em-
pirical tests as superfluous to the scientific method. His intense desire to see the ex-
perimental test carried out, and his insistence on the vulnerability of his theory to
disproof, are amply attested to in these volumes.
Einstein’s confidence in the empirical status of his theory did not keep him from
constantly looking for improvements. Before the 1914 eclipse expedition, he had
already expressed his certitude (Vol. 5, Doc. 506) “regardless of whether the obser-
vation of the solar eclipse will succeed or not” (Vol. 5, Doc. 514). Yet soon there-
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