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Big Bang by Simon Singh
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Astronomia nova, Brownian motion, carbon-based life, Cepheid variable, Chance favours the prepared mind, Commentariolus, Copley Medal, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Defenestration of Prague, discovery of penicillin, Dmitri Mendeleev, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Freundlich, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Hans Lippershey, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, horn antenna, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Karl Jansky, Kickstarter, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, Olbers’ paradox, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Paul Erdős, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, scientific mainstream, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbiased observer, Wilhelm Olbers, William of Occam
There they would spend the night studying the stars, returning home early in the morning. Fred’s early fascination with astronomy was reinforced at the age of twelve when he read Arthur Eddington’s Stars and Atoms. Eventually Hoyle was persuaded to give the British education system a chance. He settled down at Bingley Grammar School and then embarked on a traditional academic path. In 1933 he won a scholarship to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he studied mathematics. He excelled and won the Mayhew Prize, which is given to the best student in applied mathematics. After graduation he earned a place as a Ph.D. student at Cambridge, working alongside such greats as Rudolf Peierls, Paul Dirac, Max Born and his hero, Arthur Eddington. After earning his doctorate in 1939 he was elected a fellow of St John’s College, and his research began to focus on the evolution of stars.
He continued to write papers while stuck in the trenches, including one on Einstein’s general theory of relativity which later led to an understanding of black holes. On 24 February 1916, Einstein presented the paper to the Prussian Academy. Just four months later, Schwarzschild was dead. He had contracted a fatal disease on the Eastern front. While Schwarzschild volunteered to fight, his counterpart at the Cambridge Observatory, Arthur Eddington, refused to enlist on principle. Raised as a devout Quaker, Eddington made his position clear: ‘My objection to war is based on religious grounds…Even if the abstention of conscientious objectors were to make the difference between victory and defeat, we cannot truly benefit the nation by wilful disobedience to the divine will.’ Eddington’s colleagues pressed for him to be exempted from military service on the grounds that he was of more value to the country as a scientist, but the Home Office rejected the petition.
Nevertheless, Einstein once made a tongue-in-cheek comment when asked by a student how he would have reacted if God’s universe had turned out to behave differently from the way the general theory of relativity had predicted. In a wonderful demonstration of mock hubris, Einstein answered: ‘Then I would feel sorry for the Good Lord. The theory is correct anyway.’ Figure 28 Albert Einstein, who developed the theoretical framework of general relativity, and Sir Arthur Eddington, who proved it by observing the 1919 eclipse. This photograph was taken in 1930, when Einstein visited Cambridge to collect an honorary degree. Einstein’s Universe Newton’s theory of gravity is still widely used today to calculate everything from the flight of a tennis ball to the forces on a suspension bridge, from the swinging of a pendulum to the trajectory of a missile. Newton’s formula remains highly accurate when applied to phenomena that take place within the realm of low terrestrial gravity, where the forces are comparatively weak.
Day We Found the Universe by Marcia Bartusiak
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, California gold rush, Cepheid variable, Copley Medal, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, horn antenna, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Occam's razor, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Pluto: dwarf planet, Solar eclipse in 1919, William of Occam
His genial composure was only broken when he had to sneeze, a feat once described as “remarkable.” By the 1910s the island-universe theory, dormant for many years, was slowly reemerging among a select group of scientists in both the United States and Europe. These astronomers were specifying that the spirals' sizes and the brightness of their novae only made sense if they were milky ways at great distance. The highly respected English astrophysicist Arthur Eddington was captivated by the vast breadth of this idea; it engaged his theoretical fantasies. “If the spiral nebulae are within the stellar system [the Milky Way], we have no notion what their nature may be. That hypothesis leads to a full stop,” he noted. “If, however, it is assumed that these nebulae are external to the stellar system, that they are in fact systems co-equal with our own, we have at least an hypothesis which can be followed up… [It] opens up to our imagination a truly magnificent vista of system beyond system … in which the great stellar system of hundreds of millions of stars (our galaxy)…would be an insignificant unit.”
Page by page he was stepping toward his grand finale. The full-scale assault took place with paper number twelve, titled “Remarks on the Arrangement of the Sidereal Universe.” This particular article was not fully ready for submission to the Astrophysical Journal until April, in the waning days of World War I, but Shapley couldn't wait that long to spread the news. On January 8, 1918, he wrote the noted Arthur Eddington in England that “now, with startling suddenness and definiteness, [the cluster studies] seem to have elucidated the whole sidereal structure”—in other words, the architecture of the Milky Way. Not only were the globular clusters uniformly scattered around the center of the galaxy, with the Sun shoved off to the hinterlands, but the Milky Way was far larger than anyone had formerly presumed.
“With the plan of the sidereal system here outlined,” reported Shapley, “it appears unlikely that the spiral nebulae can be considered separate galaxies of stars.” There was still the problem of the exceptionally bright novae seen earlier in the spiral nebulae. How do you explain that? asked Shapley. And then there were van Maanen's rotations to take into account. Not everyone was swayed by Shapley's worries; the most ardent believers in external galaxies still held fast to their convictions—not only Curtis but also such major players as Arthur Eddington, W. W. Campbell, and V. M. Slipher. It was the undecideds who were most affected by Shapley's arguments and so remained huddled on the fence. What resulted were two completely different views of the universe, which were difficult to reconcile. The writer MacPherson poetically put it this way: “We may compare our galactic system to a continent surrounded on all sides by the ocean of space, and the globular clusters to small islands lying at varying distances from its shores; while the spiral nebulae would appear to be either smaller islands, or else independent ‘continents’ shining dimly out of Immensity.”
E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis
Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, Berlin Wall, British Empire, dark matter, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Freundlich, Fellow of the Royal Society, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, Mercator projection, Nelson Mandela, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Stephen Hawking, Thorstein Veblen
With men he was bluff and friendly, but with women he was bluff and pretty much a thug. He was cruel to her at lectures, trying to get all the male students to laugh at this one female in their midst. It didn’t stop her from going—she could hold her own with his best students in tutorials— but even forty years later, retired from her professorship at Harvard, she remembered the rows of braying young men, nervously trying to do what their teacher expected of them. But Arthur Eddington, a quiet Quaker, was also at the university, and he was happy to take her on as a tutorial student. Although his reserve never lifted—tea with students was generally in the presence of his elderly unmarried sister—the twenty-year-old Payne picked up Eddington’s barely stated awe at the potential power of pure thought. He liked to show how creatures who lived on a planet entirely shrouded in cloud would be able to deduce the main features of the unseen universe above The Fires of the Sun them.
If conditions allowed international travel, he’d ﬁnally be able to prove what he could do. In November 1918 World War I ended. There were no obstacles to a German national traveling now! It’s not recorded what Freundlich felt as the great expedition set out, but we know exactly where he was when the results came through. He read it in the newspaper, back in Berlin. He hadn’t been invited along. In fact, it was a cool Englishman we’ve already met who led the team. Arthur Eddington wore small metalrimmed glasses, was medium height and barely medium weight, and spoke in sentences that tapered off whenever he had to pause for thought, which was fairly often. This of course meant in the good English manner that under his meek exterior there beat a soul of wild determination. By the time Chandra encountered him in the 1930s his personality had hardened, but at this time, in the period of World War I, he had the energy of a young man.
Eddington knew what was in store in the prison camps, but being a paciﬁst isn’t the same as being a coward, as the actions of many Quakers years later in the American civil rights movement showed. Eddington signed the letter, since that was only fair to his friends, but then he also added a postscript, explaining to the Home Ofﬁce that if he wasn’t deferred on grounds of scientiﬁc usefulness, he’d still ask to be deferred as a conscientious objector. The Home Ofﬁce was not impressed, and began proceedings to send him to one of the prisons. What Else Einstein Did Arthur Eddington aip emilio segrè visual archives This is the point at which the Astronomer Royal, Frank Dyson, called attention to the remarkable eclipse opportunity. If Dyson could get Eddington to arrange the expedition, could Eddington still be deferred, despite that postscript? Dyson’s work was relevant to navigation, and so he was close to the admiralty. The admiralty had a word with the Home Ofﬁce.
Einstein's Dice and Schrödinger's Cat: How Two Great Minds Battled Quantum Randomness to Create a Unified Theory of Physics by Paul Halpern
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, clockwork universe, cosmological constant, dark matter, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, lone genius, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Solar eclipse in 1919, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics
It was forced to cede some of its territory, limit the size of its army, and pay extensive reparations—leading to much resentment and economic depression that would contribute to the rise of the Nazis. During the war, Einstein had little chance to test his hypothesis about the gravitational bending of starlight by the Sun. Finlay-Freundlich’s inability to complete his expedition was a great disappointment to him. Einstein quietly began to correspond with a British astronomer, Arthur Eddington, who was keenly interested in verifying Einstein’s theory. According to several widely reported stories, Eddington was known at the time as one of the few people who truly understood general relativity.14 A Quaker and a pacifist, Eddington, like Einstein, was opposed to the war and in favor of international scientific cooperation. Naturally, during the bloody conflict, open cooperation between British and German scientists was close to impossible.
In return, Schuschnigg promised to 144 Spooky Connections and Zombie Cats ensure that his foreign policy was appropriate for a “German state” and to let some Nazi-leaning politicians into his government. These seemingly innocuous clauses provided a Trojan horse for Hitler to include his supporters in the Austrian leadership and begin to exert pressure from within for subjugation. Schrödinger started his Graz professorship in October of that year. Once again he tried to ignore politics, focusing on his research. He had become intrigued by recent proposals by Arthur Eddington for uniting quantum physics with general relativity and explaining uncertainty through cosmological arguments. Thus in the midst of Austria’s turmoil, his gaze was fixed on his equations. The Quantum and the Cosmos Eddington’s role in the late 1910s and early 1920s as a leading defender, interpreter, and tester of general relativity had won him much respect in the physics community. However, starting in the mid- to late 1920s, his research had become increasingly focused on explaining the properties of nature through mathematical relationships that connected the very large and very small.
Frank, Philipp, Einstein: His Life and Times (New York: 1949). Freund, Peter, A Passion for Discovery (Hackensack, NJ: World Scientific, 2007). 237 Further Reading Gefter, Amanda, Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn: A Father, a Daughter, the Meaning of Nothing, and the Beginning of Everything (New York: Bantam, 2014). Goenner, Hubert, “Unified Field Theories: From Eddington and Einstein up to Now,” in Proceedings of the Sir Arthur Eddington Centenary Symposium, edited by V. de Sabbata and T. M. Karade, 1:176–196 (Singapore: World Scientific, 1984). Greene, Brian, Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time and the Texture of Reality (New York: Vintage, 2005). Gribbin, John, Erwin Schrödinger and the Quantum Revolution (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2013). ———, In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality (New York: Bantam, 1984). ———, Schrödinger’s Kittens and the Search for Reality: Solving the Quantum Mysteries (New York: Little, Brown, 1995).
Wonders of the Universe by Brian Cox, Andrew Cohen
a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, California gold rush, Cepheid variable, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johannes Kepler, Karl Jansky, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, trade route
* * * This image shows an artist’s impression of the hypothetical planet Vulcan, which was once believed to orbit in an asteroid belt closer to the Sun than Mercury. Vulcan was supposedly first sighted by amateur astronomer Lescarbault on 26 March 1859, but further observations were inconclusive and Vulcan was later proved to be a ghost planet. SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EINSTEIN’S THEORY OF GENERAL RELATIVITY German-born physicist Albert Einstein (left) created the famous Theory of General Relativity. British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington (right), later put this theory to the test and confirmed its accuracy. ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY Einstein would have loved the Vomit Comet. The fact that the effects of gravity can be completely removed by falling freely in a gravitational field was, for him, the thought experiment that led to his theory of General Relativity. How wonderful it would have been for him to experience it as I did!
There is no physical reason why all the water molecules moving around in the lake shouldn’t gather together on the surface, reduce their collective temperature such that they bind together to form ice, jump out of the water and glue themselves onto the surface of the glacier. We do, however, have a scientific explanation for why such a dramatic reversal never happens; we call it the ‘arrow of time’. * * * We expect to see ice fall from the glacier, splash into the water and create waves. If it happened in any other way we’d immediately know there was something wrong. * * * This phrase was first used by the British physicist Sir Arthur Eddington in the early twentieth century to describe this deceptively simple and yet profound quality of our universe: it always seems to run in a particular direction. Eddington was instrumental in bringing Einstein’s theory of relativity to the English-speaking world during the First World War, and also one of the first scientists to directly confirm the findings of relativity when he led an expedition to observe the total solar eclipse on 29 May 1919.
Fifteen years after writing down the first law of thermodynamics, and far more importantly for our understanding of the arrow of time, Clausius introduced a new concept known as entropy, which lies at the heart of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Clausius’s statement of the second law does not at first sight sound as if it has profound implications for the future of our universe. He simply stated that ‘No process is possible whose sole result is the transfer of heat from a body of lower temperature to a body of higher temperature’. This simple proposition occupies such a profound position in modern science that Arthur Eddington said of the second law: ‘If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the Universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations, then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation, well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the Second Law of Thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.’
Time Travel: A History by James Gleick
Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, augmented reality, butterfly effect, crowdsourcing, Doomsday Book, index card, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Marshall McLuhan, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, self-driving car, Stephen Hawking, telepresence, wikimedia commons
” * * * *1 When he writes of Bob Wilson, “His was a mixed nature, half hustler, half philosopher,” Heinlein is proudly describing himself. *2 “There is some sense, easier to feel than to state, in which time is an unimportant and superficial characteristic of reality.” SIX * * * Arrow of Time The great thing about time is that it goes on. But this is an aspect of it which the physicist sometimes seems inclined to neglect. —Arthur Eddington (1927) WE ARE FREE to leap about in time—all this hard-won expertise must be good for something—but let’s just set the clock to 1941 again. Two young Princeton physicists make an appointment to call at the white clapboard house at 112 Mercer Street, where they are led into Professor Einstein’s study. The great man is wearing a sweater but no shirt, shoes but no socks. He listens politely as they describe a theory they are cooking up to describe particle interactions.
That last is where Johnny and Dick came in. At some point we have to talk about entropy. — THERE’S A CATCHPHRASE, the arrow of time, familiarly used by scientists and philosophers in many languages (la flèche du temps, Zeitpfeil, zamanın oku, ось времени) as shorthand for a complex fact that everyone knows: time has a direction. The phrase spread widely in the 1940s and 1950s. It came from the pen of Arthur Eddington, the British astrophysicist who first championed Einstein. In a series of lectures at the University of Edinburgh in the winter of 1927 Eddington was attempting to comprehend the great changes under way in the nature of scientific thought. The next year he published his lectures as a popular book, The Nature of the Physical World. It struck him that all previous physics was now seen to be classical physics, another new expression.
Isaac Asimov, Futuredays, 1986. Anthony Aveni, Empires of Time, 1989. Svetlana Boym, The Future of Nostalgia, 2001. Jimena Canales, The Physicist and the Philosopher, 2015. Sean Carroll, From Eternity to Here, 2010. Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction, 2008. Paul Davies, About Time, 1995. How to Build a Time Machine, 2001. John William Dunne, An Experiment with Time, 1927. Arthur Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World, 1928. J. T. Fraser, ed., The Voices of Time, 1966, 1981. Peter Galison, Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps: Empires of Time, 2004. J. Alexander Gunn, The Problem of Time, 1929. Claudia Hammond, Time Warped, 2013. Diane Owen Hughes and Thomas R. Trautmann, eds., Time: Histories and Ethnologies, 1995. Robin Le Poidevin, Travels in Four Dimensions, 2003.
Massive: The Missing Particle That Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science by Ian Sample
Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Donald Trump, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Gary Taubes, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, uranium enrichment, Yogi Berra
The construction work alone had taken six years. Later that year, before LEP switched on, the British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, gave a speech at the Royal Society in London, the most prestigious scientific organization in the country. She spoke wistfully of Arthur Eddington, whose stories Peter Higgs had read as a schoolboy. Eddington had chosen the Royal Society as the venue in which to describe his 1919 expedition to the west coast of Africa to prove Einstein right by watching starlight bend around the sun. “When Arthur Eddington presented his results to this society in 1919 . . . it made headlines,” Thatcher said. “Many people could not get into the meeting, so anxious were the crowds to find out whether the intellectual paradox of curved space had really been demonstrated. Should we be doing more to explain why we are looking for the Higgs boson at CERN?”
The man leading the assembly was about to retire when Higgs arrived, but he had been the new headmaster when Dirac was in his last year as a pupil at the school. Higgs was fascinated by Dirac, and it was he, more than any of the other founding fathers of quantum mechanics, who ignited Higgs’s passion for physics. His English teacher urged him to read about science outside the classroom, especially the popular books by the Cambridge physicist Arthur Eddington, the cosmologist James Jeans, and Albert Einstein. One of Eddington’s tales had unfolded on May 29, 1919, ten years to the day before Higgs was born.19 Eddington had cooked up a brilliant plan. He realized that nature provided a way of testing Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which said massive objects created gravity by curving space around them. Eddington promptly set sail for the tiny island of Principe off the west coast of Africa and arrived in time to witness a total eclipse of the sun.
Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Arthur Eddington, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Mahatma Gandhi, music of the spheres, Necker cube, p-value, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Solar eclipse in 1919, Steven Pinker, Zipf's Law
from 'Remembering Richard Feynman', The Skeptical Inquirer (1988) Newton's dissection of the rainbow into light of different wavelengths led on to Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism and thence to Einstein's theory of special relativity. If you think the rainbow has poetic mystery, you should try relativity. Einstein himself openly made aesthetic judgements in science, and perhaps went too far. 'The most beautiful thing we can experience,' he said, 'is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.' Sir Arthur Eddington, whose own scientific writings were noted for poetic flair, used the solar eclipse of 1919 to test General Relativity and returned from Principe Island to announce, in Banesh Hoffmann's phrase, that Germany was host to the greatest scientist of the age. I read those words with a catch in the throat, but Einstein himself took the triumph in his stride. Any other result and he would have been 'sorry for the dear Lord.
There may be some who feel that the truth should always out, however painful, but I think a good case could be made that the sum total of human happiness would not be enhanced by a sudden outburst of revelations about everybody's true paternity. Then there are the medical and insurance issues. The whole life insurance business depends upon the inability to forecast exactly when somebody will die. As Sir Arthur Eddington said: 'Human life is proverbially uncertain; few things are more certain than the solvency of a life-insurance company.' We all pay our premiums. Those of us who die later than expected subsidize (the heirs of) those who die earlier than expected. Insurance companies already make statistical guesses which partially subvert the system by enabling them to charge high-risk clients larger premiums.
Moving to the far end of our spectrum of putative miracles, are there any speculations or allegations that we can utterly, and for all time, rule out? Physicists agree that if an inventor applies for a patent for a perpetual motion machine you can safely turn down his patent without even looking at his design. This is because any perpetual motion machine would violate the laws of thermodynamics. Sir Arthur Eddington wrote: If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations—then so much the worse for Maxwell's equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation—well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.
Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Ray Jayawardhana
Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, Ernest Rutherford, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Magellanic Cloud, New Journalism, race to the bottom, random walk, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Skype, Solar eclipse in 1919, South China Sea, Stephen Hawking, undersea cable, uranium enrichment
He was favorably inclined toward neutrinos at first, and praised Fermi’s theory of beta decay in a letter to a colleague in 1934, in which he noted that “neutrinos seem to provide the only escape from nonconservation of energy and until something else turns up one should not be unsympathetic to them.” Barely two years later, he seemed to have had a change of heart, dismissing the neutrino as an “unobservable particle.” By the end of the 1930s, other scientists shared Dirac’s doubts about Pauli’s neutrino hypothesis. The British astrophysicist, expositor of relativity theory, and science popularizer Arthur Eddington reflected the skepticism of the time when he noted in his book The Philosophy of Physical Science: “Just now nuclear physicists are writing a great deal about hypothetical particles called neutrinos supposed to account for certain peculiar facts observed in beta-ray disintegration … I am not much impressed by the neutrino theory. In an ordinary way I might say that I do not believe in neutrinos … Dare I say that experimental physicists will not have sufficient ingenuity to make neutrinos?”
Now that Reines and Cowan had confirmed these particles as real, Davis turned his attention to chasing neutrinos created inside the Sun rather than those produced in man-made reactors on Earth. Davis was aware that neutrinos should be an essential byproduct of how the Sun generates energy, thanks to astrophysicists who had figured out the Sun’s inner workings in the preceding decades. The first crucial insight on solar energy production came in 1920 from the British astronomer Arthur Eddington, who suggested that nuclear reactions are responsible. One of Eddington’s Cambridge colleagues had found that a helium atom is slightly less massive than four hydrogen atoms combined. Eddington proposed that as four hydrogen nuclei fuse to make one helium nucleus in the Sun’s core, the small mass difference would be converted into energy, according to Einstein’s equation E=mc2. It was a stroke of brilliance on Eddington’s part, but he didn’t work out the details of the mechanism.
The Doomsday Calculation: How an Equation That Predicts the Future Is Transforming Everything We Know About Life and the Universe by William Poundstone
Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Arthur Eddington, Bayesian statistics, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, digital map, discounted cash flows, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, double helix, Elon Musk, Gerolamo Cardano, index fund, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, John von Neumann, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Feynman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Sam Altman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, time value of money, Turing test
This is an example of an observation selection effect. It’s natural to assume that people, objects, and events that we can observe are typical of those we can’t. That is the premise of opinion polls, which hold that a handful of randomly selected people can speak for a whole nation. But there are many ways for polls to be skewed and for observations to be distorted by selection effects. British physicist Arthur Eddington gave a classic example in his 1939 book, The Philosophy of Physical Science. Wanting to know the size of the smallest fish in a pond, you get a net and scoop up a hundred random fish, measuring each carefully. The smallest fish of the hundred is six inches long. It is easy to jump to the conclusion that fish smaller than six inches are rare or nonexistent. Nope, runs Eddington’s punch line.
If the constant were much different from its observed value, there would be no atoms. That would mean no stars, no planets, no life, and no Richard Feynmans to contemplate it all. The fine-structure constant remains a mystery, though, because our physical theories have so far been unable to account for its value. This seems to cry out for an explanation. Several twentieth-century thinkers sacrificed their reputations on that altar, most notoriously Arthur Eddington. In spirit Eddington was a Pythagorean, a man who preferred to believe the world sings the unheard music of whole numbers. Eddington claimed that the fine-structure constant was exactly 1/136. He supplied an elaborate rationale that mystified all who read it. Unfortunately for Eddington, the constant is much closer to 1/137. When better measurements established this beyond dispute, Eddington admitted his mistake.
The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow
airport security, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Buckminster Fuller, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, fudge factor, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Mercator projection, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, Thales of Miletus, the scientific method, Turing machine
For example, we don’t mean the universe is expanding in the manner that, say, one might expand one’s house, by knocking out a wall and positioning a new bathroom where once there stood a majestic oak. Rather than space extending itself, it is the distance between any two points within the universe that is growing. That idea emerged in the 1930s amid much controversy, but one of the best ways to visualize it is still a metaphor enunciated in 1931 by Cambridge University astronomer Arthur Eddington. Eddington visualized the universe as the surface of an expanding balloon, and all the galaxies as points on that surface. This picture clearly illustrates why far galaxies recede more quickly than nearby ones. For example, if the radius of the balloon doubled each hour, then the distance between any two galaxies on the balloon would double each hour. If at some time two galaxies were 1 inch apart, an hour later they would be 2 inches apart, and they would appear to be moving relative to each other at a rate of 1 inch per hour.
The Music of the Primes by Marcus Du Sautoy
Ada Lovelace, Andrew Wiles, Arthur Eddington, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, computer age, Dava Sobel, Dmitri Mendeleev, Eratosthenes, Erdős number, Georg Cantor, German hyperinflation, global village, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, lateral thinking, music of the spheres, New Journalism, P = NP, Paul Erdős, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Turing machine, William of Occam, Wolfskehl Prize, Y2K
He had in mind the so-called great circles, such as lines of longitude, along which the shortest path between two points on the surface of the Earth is measured. In this two-dimensional geometry there are no parallel lines of longitude since they all meet at the poles. No one had contemplated the idea that three-dimensional space might also bend. We realise now that Gauss was working on too small a scale to observe any significant bending of space to counter the view of a Euclidean world. Arthur Eddington’s confirmation of the bending of light from stars during the solar eclipse of 1919 supported Gauss’s hunch. Gauss never went public with his ideas, perhaps because his new geometries seemed to be at variance with the task of mathematics, which was to represent physical reality. The friends he did mention his idea to, Gauss pledged to secrecy. The idea of these new geometries was eventually floated publicly in the 1830s by the Russian Nikolai Ivanovic Lobachevsky and the Hungarian János Bolyai.
Also at Trinity, working alongside Hardy and Littlewood, were the two most eminent philosophers active in England: Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Both were wrestling with the same foundational problems of mathematics that had so concerned Hilbert. And Cambridge was buzzing with new breakthroughs in physics made by the likes of J. J. Thomson, who was awarded a Nobel prize for his discovery of the electron, and Arthur Eddington, who had confirmed Gauss and Einstein’s belief that space was indeed curved and non-Euclidean. The great collaboration between Hardy and Littlewood was fuelled by the timely arrival from Göttingen of a book by Landau about prime numbers. The publication in 1909 of his two-volume work Handbuch der Lehre von der Verteilung der Primzahlen (‘Handbook of the Theory of the Distribution of Prime Numbers’) proselytised the wonders of the connections between primes and the Riemann zeta function.
Intertwingled: Information Changes Everything by Peter Morville
A Pattern Language, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, augmented reality, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, business process, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, disruptive innovation, index card, information retrieval, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jane Jacobs, John Markoff, Lean Startup, Lyft, minimum viable product, Mother of all demos, Nelson Mandela, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, RFID, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Schrödinger's Cat, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, source of truth, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, uber lyft, urban planning, urban sprawl, Vannevar Bush, zero-sum game
What I am illustrating here is that those objects do not really exist. What do exist are physical stimuli. Human beings classify and name those different stimuli as different objects.cxliv Yanofsky argues that we may learn more from looking at the way we are observing the universe than from the observation itself. To illustrate, he recalls a thought experiment of the philosopher-scientist Arthur Eddington. Suppose that an ichthyologist is exploring the life of the ocean. He casts a net into the water and brings up a fishy assortment. Surveying his catch, he proceeds in the usual manner of a scientist to systematize what it reveals. He arrives at two generalizations: 1) No sea-creature is less than two inches long. 2) All sea-creatures have gills. cxlv The catch stands for our scientific body of knowledge and the net for the sensory and cognitive apparatus used to obtain it.
Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand: Fifty Wonders That Reveal an Extraordinary Universe by Marcus Chown
Albert Einstein, Anton Chekhov, Arthur Eddington, Carrington event, dark matter, Donald Trump, double helix, Edmond Halley, gravity well, horn antenna, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, microbiome, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Turing machine
—SARAH LOTZ1 ACROSS THE WORLD, TELEGRAPH operators were electrocuted and, at low latitudes, a blood-red aurora borealis appeared, so bright a newspaper could be read by it at midnight.2 The Carrington event, named after amateur astronomer Richard Carrington, who from south of London noticed a flare on the sun at the same time that a magnetometer at Kew flew off-scale, changed forever our ideas about the sun.3 Before September 1, 1859, our local star was believed to influence the earth only through its gravity and of course the warming effect of sunlight. Afterwards, it was realized that violent convulsions on the solar surface, or photosphere, could fire magnetic missiles at our planet with devastating effects. In the 1920s, the British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington deduced the internal structure of the sun and its central temperature of more than ten million degrees merely by assuming that it is a giant ball of gas. The key to this was his recognition that, because the sun is not noticeably expanding or contracting, every portion of its interior must be in perfect balance. In such a state of “hydrostatic equilibrium,” the force of gravity pulling inward on every chunk of solar matter must be perfectly countered by the force of the hot gas pushing outwards.
What Kind of Creatures Are We? (Columbia Themes in Philosophy) by Noam Chomsky
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, conceptual framework, en.wikipedia.org, failed state, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, liberation theology, mass incarceration, means of production, phenotype, Ronald Reagan, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Turing test, wage slave
We know nothing of the “intrinsic character” of such mentally constructed entities, so there is “no ground for the view that percepts cannot be physical events.” For science to be informative, it cannot be restricted to structural knowledge of such logical properties. Rather, “the world of physics [that we construct] must be, in some sense, continuous with the world of our perceptions, since it is the latter which supplies the evidence for the laws of physics.” The percepts that are required for this task—perhaps just meter-readings, Arthur Eddington had argued shortly before—“are not known to have any intrinsic character which physical events cannot have, since we do not know of any intrinsic character which could be incompatible with the logical properties that physics assigns to physical events.” Accordingly, “what are called ‘mental’ events… are part of the material of the physical world.” Physics itself seeks only to discover “the causal skeleton of the world, [while studying] percepts only in their cognitive aspect; their other aspects lie outside its purview”—though we recognize their existence, at the highest grade of certainty in fact.36 The basic conundrum recalls a classical dialogue between the intellect and the senses, in which the intellect says that color, sweetness, and the like are only convention while in reality there are only atoms and the void, and the senses reply: “Wretched mind, from us you are taking the evidence by which you would overthrow us?
The Search for Superstrings, Symmetry, and the Theory of Everything by John Gribbin
Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, complexity theory, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking
And, from the outset, this approach had not only involved higher dimensions (more than the familiar four), but a neat trick for tucking them away out of sight. The Many Dimensions of Reality Early in 1919, Theodor Kaluza, a junior scholar at the University of Königsberg in Germany, 3 was sitting at his desk in his study, working on the implications of the new General Theory of Relativity, which Einstein had first presented four years before and which was about to be confirmed, in spectacular fashion, by Arthur Eddington's observations of light bending during total eclipse of the Sun. As usual, Kaluza's son, Theodor junior, aged nine, was sitting quietly on the floor of the study, playing his own games. Suddenly, Kaluza senior stopped work. He sat still for several seconds, staring at the papers, covered with equations, that he had been working on. Then he whistled softly, slapped both hands down hard on the table, and stood up.
The Infinity Puzzle by Frank Close
Experiments have determined its value to be 0.00728, which seems unremarkable until you notice that 1 divided by this number is almost exactly an integer: 137. Almost immediately following that discovery, this number took on a sense of mystery, which has fascinated physicists ever since. In 137, apparently, science had found nature’s PIN code. In Cambridge, England, in the 1930s, astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington, seduced by this numerology, inspired a Pythagorean cult.23 There have been spoofs connecting 137 to the biblical book of Revelation;24 one of the fathers of Quantum Electrodynamics—Julian Schwinger—had 137 as the vanity license plate on his sports car;25 and eighty years on, many of us continue to receive unsolicited papers from people who believe that they have found the true path to enlightenment with an explanation of this number.
In QED, alpha is expressed in terms of the speed of light, c, the magnitude of Planck’s quantum h, and e, the magnitude of the electric charge. It thereby connects the dynamics of electrically charged particles in a profound way with the great theories of the twentieth century—Special Relativity (viac) and Quantum Theory (viah). The tantalizing feature is that the particular combination of these quantities, alpha, is simply a number. 23. Arthur Eddington had built a set of sixteen equations, involving fundamental constants, with which he hoped to construct a theory of the universe. He then claimed that alpha followed from (16 × 16 – 16)/2 + 16, which equals 136. When the data settled on its value nearer to 137, Eddington announced that he had forgotten to include alpha itself in his formula, so added 1 to 136. Today we know that “one divided by alpha” is not exactly 137 and that its magnitude has no mystical signiﬁcance.
The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom by Graham Farmelo
Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Berlin Wall, cuban missile crisis, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, gravity well, Henri Poincaré, invention of radio, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Murray Gell-Mann, period drama, Richard Feynman, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, strikebreaker, University of East Anglia
On 20 January 1920, Punch featured an anti-Semitic poem that exemplified popular puzzlement with the theory that had originated behind the lines of the UK’s bitter enemy: Euclid is gone, dethroned, By dominies disowned, And modern physicists, Judaeo-Teuton, Finding strange kinks in space, Swerves in light’s arrowy race, Make havoc of the theories of Newton. The pages of the newspapers and magazines were replete with advertisements for scores of half-baked accounts of Einstein’s work churned out only months after the theory came to public attention.28 At that time, there were no science journalists, so Dirac and his friend Wiltshire had to rely on popular articles written by scientists, notably Arthur Eddington, the Quaker astronomer and mathematician at the University of Cambridge and the only person in Britain to have mastered the theory. He had even got his hands dirty in one of the eclipse expeditions that produced crucial support for the theory. In a stream of entertaining articles and books, Eddington deployed witty, down-to-earth analogies that made even the most complex abstract ideas accessible and arresting.
Pausing only to eat his packed lunch, he looked every inch the city gent inspecting the local countryside: to the north, there was the winding valley of the river Great Ouse and to the east, the geometrical network of fenland drains and Tudor-style buildings with their Dutch gables.15 He would return in time for dinner at St John’s and then walk back to his digs through the foggy backstreets of Cambridge, most of them unlit. On Monday morning, he was ready for another six days’ uninterrupted study. Dirac’s reserve did not prevent him from meeting many of the country’s most famous scientists soon after he arrived. Among them was the man who had introduced him to the technicalities of relativity theory, Arthur Eddington. He was a young-looking forty-year-old, always neatly dressed in his three-piece suit, the knot of his dark tie poised just below the top button of his starched shirt. For someone so eminent, he was surprisingly lacking in confidence – he often sat with his arms crossed defensively, weighing his words carefully. His unique strength as a scientist lay in his hybrid skills as a mathematician and astronomer, giving him the ideal qualifications to play a leading role in tests of the general theory of relativity.
Dirac was learning the branches of mathematics known as group theory and differential geometry. 57 Interview with Oppenheimer, AHQP, 20 November 1963, p. 1. 58 Letter to Dirac from his mother, 9 October 1931, Dirac Papers, 2/2/4 (FSU). 59 Letter to Dirac from his mother, dated 28/31 September 1931, Dirac Papers, 2/2/4 (FSU). 60 Letter to Dirac from his mother, 22 December 1931, Dirac Papers, 2/2/4 (FSU). 61 Brown (1997: Chapter 6). 62 Cathcart (2004: 210–12); Chadwick (1984: 42–5). 63 Brown (1997: 106). Sixteen I hope it will not shock experimental physicists too much if I say that we do not accept their observations unless they are confirmed by theory. SIR ARTHUR EDDINGTON, 11 September 19331 The character of Paul Dirac first appeared on stage in a special version of Faust, the Hamlet of German literature. Goethe’s drama is the literary antithesis of Agatha Christie’s penny-plain narratives that Dirac wolfed down in the evenings. He had no taste for epic plays, but he will have been absorbed in this Faust, a forty-minute musical parody of the twenty-one-hour play, written as a physicists’ entertainment.2 The authors, the cast and the audience were the physicists at Bohr’s spring meeting in April 1932, and Dirac was there.
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, bet made by Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, Brownian motion, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Magellanic Cloud, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking
Our sun has probably got enough fuel for another five thousand million years or so, but more massive stars can use up their fuel in as little as one hundred million years, much less than the age of the universe. When a star runs out of fuel, it starts to cool off and so to contract. What might happen to it then was first understood only at the end of the 1920s. In 1928 an Indian graduate student, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, set sail for England to study at Cambridge with the British astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington, an expert on general relativity. (According to some accounts, a journalist told Eddington in the early 1920s that he had heard there were only three people in the world who understood general relativity. Eddington paused, then replied, “I am trying to think who the third person is.”) During his voyage from India, Chandrasekhar worked out how big a star could be and still support itself against its own gravity after it had used up all its fuel.
Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Cepheid variable, cosmological constant, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Georg Cantor, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking
The same thing happens with mass. As you get into greatly curved regions of space, bodies’ masses effectively increase, a phenomenon known as mass inflation. This analogy explains the orbits of the planets; Earth is simply rolling around in the dimple that the sun makes in the rubber sheet. Light doesn’t go in a straight line, but in a curved path around stars—an effect that the British astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington went on an expedition in 1919 to observe. Eddington measured the position of a star during a solar eclipse and spotted the curvature that Einstein had predicted (Figure 51). Einstein’s equations also predicted something much more sinister: the black hole, a star so dense that nothing can escape its grasp, not even light. Figure 51: Gravity bends light around the sun. A black hole begins, like all stars, as a big ball of hot gas—mostly hydrogen.
Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, From Atoms to Economies by Cesar Hidalgo
"Robert Solow", Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, assortative mating, business cycle, Claude Shannon: information theory, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Douglas Hofstadter, Everything should be made as simple as possible, frictionless, frictionless market, George Akerlof, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, information asymmetry, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, New Economic Geography, Norbert Wiener, p-value, Paul Samuelson, phenotype, price mechanism, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, transaction costs, working-age population
It played in Pandora, and I thumbed up the song that night. 2 The Body of the Meaningless Suppose that we were asked to arrange the following into categories—distance, mass, electric force, entropy, beauty, melody. I think there are the strongest grounds for placing entropy alongside beauty and melody, and not with the first three. Entropy is only found when the parts are viewed in association, and it is by viewing or hearing the parts in association that beauty and melody are discerned. —ARTHUR EDDINGTON To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. —THOMAS A. EDISON A few months ago an article on the front page of a Chilean newspaper’s business section caught my eye. The article talked about a Chilean who had bought the world’s most expensive car. The car, a Bugatti Veyron, had a sticker price of more than $2.5 million, and its purchase represented one of the most flamboyant acts of conspicuous consumption I have ever seen.
Paradox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics by Jim Al-Khalili
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, butterfly effect, clockwork universe, complexity theory, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Ernest Rutherford, Henri Poincaré, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Laplace demon, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Olbers’ paradox, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, Wilhelm Olbers
It then turns out that it is more scientifically meaningful and useful to say that time flows in the direction of increasing entropy, as we have now removed ourselves and the subjectivity of our brains from the process by defining the direction of time in terms of a physical process. This definition applies not just to individual systems, but to the entire Universe. So you can see that if someone were to come up with a situation where entropy in an isolated system was dropping, then you could say that time itself must have switched directions—and that is too weird even to contemplate (in this chapter anyway!). Here is what the English astronomer Arthur Eddington had to say about the importance of the Second Law: The law that entropy always increases—the Second Law of Thermodynamics—holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature … If your theory is found to be against the Second Law of Thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation. We sometimes see examples where it appears as though entropy is decreasing.
Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond Our Solar System by Ray Jayawardhana
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, cosmic abundance, dark matter, Donald Davies, Edmond Halley, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Kuiper Belt, Louis Pasteur, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Solar eclipse in 1919
Einstein’s equations predicted by just how much the light’s path would bend. The stunning confrmation came four years later. A total solar eclipse was to take place on May 29, 1919. Conveniently, it would occur in front of a rich cluster of stars known as the Hyades, offering an excellent opportunity to measure any defection of starlight by the Sun’s gravity. Less conveniently, the total eclipse could only be seen from the tropics. So the English astrophysicist Arthur Eddington mounted an expedition to the island of Principe, off the west coast of Africa, while another group set sail for Brazil. The idea was to compare photographs of the Hyades stars during the totality with those taken a few months earlier at night and measure any shifts in the stars’ positions relative to each other. Most of Eddington’s photographs during the eclipse turned out to be useless, because wispy clouds obscured the stars.
From eternity to here: the quest for the ultimate theory of time by Sean M. Carroll
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, Columbine, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, gravity well, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Lao Tzu, Laplace demon, lone genius, low earth orbit, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, pets.com, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Schrödinger's Cat, Slavoj Žižek, Stephen Hawking, stochastic process, the scientific method, wikimedia commons
NATURE’S MOST RELIABLE LAW The principle underlying irreversible processes is summed up in the Second Law of Thermodynamics: The entropy of an isolated system either remains constant or increases with time. (The First Law states that energy is conserved.24) The Second Law is arguably the most dependable law in all of physics. If you were asked to predict what currently accepted principles of physics would still be considered inviolate a thousand years from now, the Second Law would be a good bet. Sir Arthur Eddington, a leading astrophysicist of the early twentieth century, put it emphatically: If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations [the laws of electricity and magnetism]—then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation—well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the Second Law of Thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.25 C.
,” the answer is “By fluctuating into a state that consists of a pumpkin pie floating by itself in an otherwise homogeneous box of gas.” Adding anything else to the picture, either in space or in time—an oven, a baker, a previously existing pumpkin patch—only makes the scenario less likely, because the entropy would have to dip lower to make that happen. By far the easiest way to get a pumpkin pie in this context is for it to gradually fluctuate all by itself out of the surrounding chaos.186 Sir Arthur Eddington, in a lecture from 1931, considered a perfectly reasonable anthropic criterion: A universe containing mathematical physicists [under these assumptions] will at any assigned date be in the state of maximum disorganization which is not inconsistent with the existence of such creatures.187 Eddington presumes that what you really need to make a good universe is a mathematical physicist. Sadly, if the universe is an eternally fluctuating collection of molecules, the most frequently occurring mathematical physicists will be all by themselves, surrounded by randomness.
The Man Who Invented the Computer by Jane Smiley
1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, British Empire, c2.com, computer age, Fellow of the Royal Society, Henri Poincaré, IBM and the Holocaust, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Karl Jansky, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, Pierre-Simon Laplace, RAND corporation, Turing machine, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture
In 1931, Turing won his own scholarship to Cambridge, but to King’s College rather than Trinity. If, at the University of Florida and Iowa State, and even at the University of Wisconsin, Atanasoff was always more or less at the periphery of both the mathematics and physics establishments, at King’s College Turing was at the exact heart, especially of mathematics. He took courses from astrophysicist Arthur Eddington and mathematicians G. H. Hardy and Max Born. He met John von Neumann there—many mathematicians fleeing conditions in Germany and the East passed through Cambridge on their way to settling elsewhere. And it was Max Newman, who was lecturing on topology—the study of relationships between geometric spaces as they are transformed by such operations as stretching, but not such operations as cutting—who introduced him to the Hilbert problem that would make his career.
The Infinite Book: A Short Guide to the Boundless, Timeless and Endless by John D. Barrow
Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, cosmological principle, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Fellow of the Royal Society, Georg Cantor, Isaac Newton, mutually assured destruction, Olbers’ paradox, prisoner's dilemma, Ray Kurzweil, scientific worldview, short selling, Stephen Hawking, Turing machine
Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1782) tells of a professor of the Grand Academy of Lagado who aims to generate a catalogue of all scientific knowledge by having his students continuously generate random strings of letters by means of a mechanical printing device. The first mechanical typewriter was patented in 1714. The monkeys turn up in 1909 in a version of the scenario written by the French mathematician Emile Borel in his book on probability, Élements de la théorie des probabilités (Paris, 1909), where he suggests that the randomly typing monkeys would eventually produce every book in France’s Bibliothèque Nationale. Arthur Eddington takes up the analogy in his book The Nature of the Physical World (Cambridge University Press, 1928), where he changes the library (p. 72): ‘If I let my fingers wander idly over the keys of a typewriter it might happen that my screed made an intelligible sentence. If an army of monkeys were strumming on typewriters they might write all the books in the British Museum.’ Eventually this oft-repeated example homed in on the works of Shakespeare as the candidate for random re-creation.
The Armchair Economist: Economics and Everyday Life by Steven E. Landsburg
Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, business cycle, diversified portfolio, first-price auction, German hyperinflation, Golden Gate Park, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Kenneth Arrow, means of production, price discrimination, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, random walk, Ronald Coase, Sam Peltzman, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, statistical model, the scientific method, Unsafe at Any Speed
The Economics of Scientific Method In 1915, Albert Einstein announced his general theory of relativity and some of its remarkable implications. The theory "predicted" an aberration in the orbit of Mercury that had been long observed but never explained. It also predicted something new and unexpected, concerning the way light is bent by the sun's gravitational field. In 1919, an expedition led by Sir Arthur Eddington confirmed the light-bending prediction and made Einstein an international celebrity. Both the explanation of Mercury's orbit and the successful prediction of light bending were spectacular confirmations of Einstein's theory. But only the light bending—because it was unexpected—made headlines. Imagine for the moment that Eddington had undertaken his expedition in 1900 instead of 1919. The facts of light bending would have been as well established—and as mysterious—as the orbit of Mercury, long in advance of Einstein's work.
Erwin Schrodinger and the Quantum Revolution by John Gribbin
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Arthur Eddington, British Empire, Brownian motion, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, lateral thinking, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Solar eclipse in 1919, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, the scientific method, trade route, upwardly mobile
The Grand Old Man status was confirmed by a new honour, when Schrödinger was inaugurated into the new Pontifical Academy of Sciences, as a founder member, at a ceremony in the Vatican on 1 January 1937. The other physicists honoured alongside Schrödinger included Bohr, Debye, Millikan, Planck, and Rutherford—not exactly the “Young Turks” of physics at the time. Schrödinger’s research in Graz was also the kind of thing that Grand Old Men with established reputations, tenured posts, and guaranteed pensions indulge in. He became fascinated by the cosmological ideas of Arthur Eddington (1882–1944), a British Grand Old Man whose illustrious career had included explaining the general theory of relativity to the English-speaking world and testing Einstein’s theory by making observations of the stars during a solar eclipse in 1919. He was a great popularizer of science, and intrigued by the puzzle of how to reconcile the general theory with quantum mechanics. But by the 1930s he was in his scientific dotage.
Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh
Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Arthur Eddington, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, Fellow of the Royal Society, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, kremlinology, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, RAND corporation, Rubik’s Cube, Simon Singh, Wolfskehl Prize
Wiles was not prepared to give up: finding a proof of the Last Theorem had turned from being a childhood fascination in to a fully fledged obsession. Having learnt all there was to learn about the mathematics of the nineteenth century, Wiles decided to arm himself with techniques of the twentieth century. 4 Into Abstraction Proof is an idol before which the mathematician tortures himself. Sir Arthur Eddington Following the work of Ernst Kummer, hopes of finding a proof for the Last Theorem seemed fainter than ever. Furthermore mathematics was beginning to move into different areas of study and there was a risk that the new generation of mathematicians would ignore what seemed an impossible dead-end problem. By the beginning of the twentieth century the problem still held a special place in the hearts of number theorists, but they treated Fermat’s Last Theorem in the same way that chemists treated alchemy.
The Clock Mirage: Our Myth of Measured Time by Joseph Mazur
Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, computer age, Credit Default Swap, Danny Hillis, Drosophila, Eratosthenes, Henri Poincaré, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, Pepto Bismol, self-driving car, Stephen Hawking, twin studies
—Henri Poincaré, Science and Hypothesis 8 WHAT IS A CLOCK? (TIME BEYOND THE OBSERVED) I was twelve years old when my father, an armchair philosopher, relayed a myth that there were only three people in the world who understood Einstein’s special theory of relativity. The myth was popularized by an unsubstantiated rumor that the renowned early twentieth-century English physicist Sir Arthur Eddington quipped, “Who’s the third?” At twelve, I took my father’s words to be sacred truth. I believed everything he said. I still cannot wear socks to bed because he once professed that feet need to breathe at night and that socks prevented feet from breathing. Perhaps that’s why I started my first year of teaching a course on mathematical physics to undergraduates using material from Einstein’s 1905 paper “Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper” (On the electrodynamics of moving bodies).1 It was in defiance of my father, and bravely naive for a newly appointed professor of mathematics.
The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene
airport security, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, clockwork universe, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, dematerialisation, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, urban renewal
From our rapid march through the history of physics, it might seem as if this has already been achieved, as if ordinary experience is addressed by pre–twentieth-century advances in physics. To some extent, this is true. But even when it comes to the everyday, we are far from a full understanding. And among the features of common experience that have resisted complete explanation is one that taps into one of the deepest unresolved mysteries in modern physics—the mystery that the great British physicist Sir Arthur Eddington called the arrow of time.4 We take for granted that there is a direction to the way things unfold in time. Eggs break, but they don’t unbreak; candles melt, but they don’t unmelt; memories are of the past, never of the future; people age, but they don’t unage. These asymmetries govern our lives; the distinction between forward and backward in time is a prevailing element of experiential reality.
Lord Kelvin was quoted by the physicist Albert Michelson during his 1894 address at the dedication of the University of Chicago’s Ryerson Laboratory (see D. Kleppner, Physics Today, November 1998). 2. Lord Kelvin, “Nineteenth Century Clouds over the Dynamical Theory of Heat and Light,” Phil. Mag. Ii—6th series, 1 (1901). 3. A. Einstein, N. Rosen, and B. Podolsky, Phys. Rev. 47, 777 (1935). 4. Sir Arthur Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 1928). 5. As described more fully in note 2 of Chapter 6, this is an overstatement because there are examples, involving relatively esoteric particles (such as K-mesons and B-mesons), which show that the so-called weak nuclear force does not treat past and future fully symmetrically. However, in my view and that of many others who have thought about it, since these particles play essentially no role in determining the properties of everyday material objects, they are unlikely to be important in explaining the puzzle of time’s arrow (although, I hasten to add, no one knows this for sure).
Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think by Alan Grafen; Mark Ridley
Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, bioinformatics, cognitive bias, computer age, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, Haight Ashbury, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, loose coupling, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, phenotype, profit maximization, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game
Although no one can announce final victory, Sisyphus—along with Charles Darwin, and Douglas Adams, and Richard Dawkins—might well applaud such efforts. ENDNOTES 1 I thank Latha Menon for bringing this quotation to my attention. 2 William Paley, Natural Theology (1803). WRITING Richard Dawkins and the golden pen Matt Ridley BEFORE The Selfish Gene, scientists wrote books for each other, or for laymen, but rarely for both. The great interpreters of science, such as Peter Medawar, J. B. S. Haldane, or Arthur Eddington might write with fluency, wit, and verve, but they were still more inclined to explain established ideas than to explore new mysteries. Gracefully and graciously they gave you the answer rather than the argument. More than anybody before him, Richard Dawkins thought that if he was to persuade his fellow scientists of a new truth that seemed to him ‘stranger than fiction’ he might as well try to enlighten the rest of us while he was at it.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn, Ian Hacking
A second point to notice is that the generation preceding Kuhn, the one that wrote so extensively on the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, had grown up in a world of radical revolution in physics. Einstein’s special (1905) and then general (1916) theory of relativity were more shattering events than we can well conceive. Relativity had, at the beginning, far more repercussions in the humanities and arts than genuine testable consequences in physics. Yes, there was the famous expedition of Sir Arthur Eddington to test an astronomical prediction of the theory, but it was only later that relativity became integral to many branches of physics. Then there was the quantum revolution, also a two-stage affair, with Max Planck’s introduction of quanta around 1900 and then the full quantum theory of 1926–27, complete with Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Combined, relativity and quantum physics overthrew not only old science but basic metaphysics.
Sundiver by David Brin
Daedalus flew safely through the middle air and was duly honoured on his landing. Icarus soared upwards to the sun till the wax melted which bound his wings and his flight ended in fiasco.. .. The classical authorities tell us, of course, that he was only ‘doing a stunt’; but I prefer to think of him as the man who brought to light a serious constructional defect in the flying-machines of his day. From Stars and Atoms, by Sir Arthur Eddington (Oxford University Press, 1927, p. 41) 23. AN EXCITED STATE Pierre LaRoque sat with his back to the utility dome. He hugged his knees and stared vacantly at the deck. He wondered, miserably, if Millie would give him a shot to last him until the Sunship got out of the chromosphere. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be in keeping with his new role as a prophet. He shuddered. During his entire career he had never realized how much it meant to have only to comment, and not to have to shape events.
The Clockwork Universe: Saac Newto, Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern WorldI by Edward Dolnick
Albert Einstein, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Arthur Eddington, clockwork universe, complexity theory, double helix, Edmond Halley, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, lone genius, music of the spheres, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Richard Feynman, Saturday Night Live, scientific worldview, Simon Singh, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions
An Italian writer produced Newtonianism for Ladies, and an English author using the pen name Tom Telescope wrote a hit children’s book. But in physics a mystique of impenetrability only adds to a theory’s allure. In 1919, when the New York Times ran a story on Einstein and relativity, a subheadline declared, “A Book for 12 Wise Men.” A smaller headline added, “No More in All the World Could Comprehend It.” A few years later a journalist asked the astronomer Arthur Eddington if it was true that only three people in the world understood general relativity. Eddington thought a moment and then replied, “I’m trying to think who the third person is.” Two features, beyond the difficulty of its mathematical arguments, made the Principia so hard to grasp. The first reflected Newton’s hybrid status as part medieval genius, part modern scientist. Through the whole vast book Newton relies on concepts from calculus—infinitesimals, limits, straight lines homing in ever closer to curves—that he had invented two decades before.
Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars by Lee Billings
addicted to oil, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, California gold rush, Colonization of Mars, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, full employment, hydraulic fracturing, index card, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Kuiper Belt, low earth orbit, Magellanic Cloud, music of the spheres, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, planetary scale, profit motive, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, random walk, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, selection bias, Silicon Valley, Solar eclipse in 1919, technological singularity, the scientific method, transcontinental railway
He wanted to create a telescope that would surpass all others, one with a magnifying lens nearly a million and a half kilometers in diameter. Drake had found a way to transform the Sun itself into the ultimate telescope. A consequence of the Sun’s immense mass is that it acts as a star-size “gravitational lens,” bending and amplifying light that grazes its surface. This effect, first measured during a solar eclipse in 1919 by the astronomer Arthur Eddington, was one of the key pieces of evidence that validated Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Simple math and physics, judiciously applied, show that our star bends light into a narrow beam aligned with the center of the Sun and the center of any far-distant light source. As first calculated by the Stanford radio astronomer Von Eshleman in 1979, the beam comes into focus at a point beginning some 82 billion kilometers (51 billion miles) away from the Sun, nearly fourteen times farther out than the orbit of Pluto, and extends outward into infinity.
Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David Christian
Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, butterfly effect, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cepheid variable, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, Columbian Exchange, complexity theory, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, demographic transition, double helix, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Ernest Rutherford, European colonialism, Francisco Pizarro, Haber-Bosch Process, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Marshall McLuhan, microbiome, nuclear winter, planetary scale, rising living standards, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, trade route, Yogi Berra
That’s why the modern story of their life and death could not have been told by naked-eye astronomers such as the Maya or the people of Lake Mungo or ancient Athens. Our modern understanding is based on research from all over the world using instruments and data stores created only in the past two centuries. These allow modern astronomers to share information on millions of stars at different stages in their lives. As the English astronomer Arthur Eddington put it, astronomy is like walking through a forest with saplings, mature trees, and ancients close to death.3 By studying trees at different points in their life cycles, you can eventually figure out how they grow, mature, and die. For astronomers, there is one fundamental map that brings together a huge amount of information about stars: the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. It’s the astronomer’s equivalent of the globes that used to sit in school classrooms, and, like those globes, it helps us make sense of a lot of information.
The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium by Martin Gurri
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Ayatollah Khomeini, bitcoin, Black Swan, Burning Man, business cycle, citizen journalism, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collective bargaining, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, currency manipulation / currency intervention, dark matter, David Graeber, death of newspapers, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, facts on the ground, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, housing crisis, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, job-hopping, Mohammed Bouazizi, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, Port of Oakland, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, too big to fail, traveling salesman, University of East Anglia, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, young professional
The truly interesting question, on the other hand, is how to explain the crisis of authority and the erratic behavior of the institutions, if there were no conspiracies to account for them. If Science Is the Modern Deity, Then the Public Is on the Verge of Deicide The epochal moment for the prestige of modern science among the public came on November 6, 1919, when the Royal Society, meeting in Piccadilly, London, announced the findings of Arthur Eddington’s expedition to the island of Principe and the city of Sobral in northern Brazil. At stake was the very shape of the universe. Eddington, head of the Cambridge Observatory, had measured the gravitational curvature of light during the solar eclipse of May 29. The Newtonian universe, with its notions of absolute space, predicted a curvature of 0.87 arc-seconds. Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, however, had done away with absolute space.
Why the West Rules--For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future by Ian Morris
addicted to oil, Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Atahualpa, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Columbian Exchange, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, defense in depth, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, Doomsday Clock, en.wikipedia.org, falling living standards, Flynn Effect, Francisco Pizarro, global village, God and Mammon, hiring and firing, indoor plumbing, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Kickstarter, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, market bubble, mass immigration, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, New Journalism, out of africa, Peter Thiel, phenotype, pink-collar, place-making, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, Sinatra Doctrine, South China Sea, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, upwardly mobile, wage slave, washing machines reduced drudgery
Relativity implies that gravity bends light, meaning—if the theory is right—that every time the sun passes between Earth and another star, the sun’s gravity will bend the light coming from that star, making the star appear to shift position slightly. That provides an easy test of the theory—except for the fact that the sun is so bright that we cannot see stars near it. But in 1919 the British astronomer Arthur Eddington came up with a clever solution, very much in the spirit of Einstein’s aphorism: by looking at the stars near the sun during a solar eclipse, Eddington realized, he could measure whether they had shifted by the amount Einstein predicted. Eddington set off to the South Pacific, made his observations, and pronounced Einstein correct. Acrimonious arguments ensued, because the difference between results that supported Einstein and results that disproved him was tiny, and Eddington was pushing the instruments available in 1919 to their very limits; yet despite the theory of relativity’s complexity,* astronomers could agree on what they needed to measure and how to measure it.
TAKING THE MEASURE OF THE PAST 135 “From the remotest past”: Spencer 1857, p. 465. 137 “the vanity”: Max Weber, cited in Gerth and Mills 1946, p. 66, note. 139 “exist[ing] in a”: Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle (1882), chapter 10. 139 agreement among indices: Carneiro 2003, pp. 167–68. 140 “sympathy and even admiration”: Sahlins 2005, pp. 22–23. 141 “Evolutionary theories”: Shanks and Tilley 1987, p. 164. 141 “We no longer”: Ortner 1984, p. 126. 143 “The ships”: Lord Robert Jocelyn, cited from Waley 1958, p. 109. 143 “as if the subjects”: Armine Mountain, cited from Fay 1997, p. 222. 145 “in science”: people regularly attribute these or similar words to Einstein, but no one has been able to trace them back to a source. The strongest claim I have seen is on the One Degree website (http://www.onedegree.ca/2005/04/08/making-einstein-simple), suggesting that the phrase actually comes from a Reader’s Digest summary of the general theory of relativity. Perhaps it was the most important thing Einstein never said (but should have). 145 “I’m just wondering”: Arthur Eddington, quoted in Isaacson 2007, p. 262. 146 Norway and Sierra Leone scores: United Nations Development Programme 2009, Table H, pp. 171, 174 (available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/). 148 E x T → C: L. White 1949, p. 368. 149 “Every Communist”: taken from Mao Zedong’s essay “On Protracted War,” written in May 1937, quoted in Short 1999, p. 368. 151 “because no”: Naroll 1956, p. 691. 157 “conjectures and refutations”: Popper 1963, p. 43. 157 “There could be”: Albert Einstein, quoted in ibid., p. 42. 163 “There are three”: attributed to Benjamin Disraeli by Mark Twain (Twain 1924, p. 246). 170 “Are these” etc.: Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol in Prose (1843), stave 4. 4.
Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil Degrasse Tyson, Avis Lang
Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, asset allocation, Berlin Wall, carbon-based life, centralized clearinghouse, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, Gordon Gekko, informal economy, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Karl Jansky, Kuiper Belt, Louis Blériot, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Pluto: dwarf planet, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, space pen, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, trade route
In weighing their achievements perhaps there is something to be said for Icarus. The classic authorities tell us, of course, that he was only “doing a stunt”; but I prefer to think of him as the man who certainly brought to light a serious constructional defect in the flying-machines of his day [and] we may at least hope to learn from his journey some hints to build a better machine. —SIR ARTHUR EDDINGTON, Stars & Atoms (1927) For millennia, the idea of being able to fly occupied human dreams and fantasies. Waddling around on Earth’s surface as majestic birds flew overhead, perhaps we developed a form of wing envy. One might even call it wing worship. You needn’t look far for evidence. For most of the history of broadcast television in America, when a station signed off for the night, it didn’t show somebody walking erect and bidding farewell; instead it would play the “Star Spangled Banner” and show things that fly, such as birds soaring or Air Force jets whooshing by.
The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos
Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Arthur Eddington, basic income, Bayesian statistics, Benoit Mandelbrot, bioinformatics, Black Swan, Brownian motion, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, constrained optimization, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, data is the new oil, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, Filter Bubble, future of work, global village, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, information retrieval, job automation, John Markoff, John Snow's cholera map, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Narrative Science, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, NP-complete, off grid, P = NP, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, planetary scale, pre–internet, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, scientific worldview, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, speech recognition, Stanford marshmallow experiment, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, superintelligent machines, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, zero-sum game
This is just the scientific method applied to machine learning: it’s not enough for a new theory to explain past evidence because it’s easy to concoct a theory that does that; the theory must also make new predictions, and you only accept it after they’ve been experimentally verified. (And even then only provisionally, because future evidence could still falsify it.) Einstein’s general relativity was only widely accepted once Arthur Eddington empirically confirmed its prediction that the sun bends the light of distant stars. But you don’t need to wait around for new data to arrive to decide whether you can trust your learner. Rather, you take the data you have and randomly divide it into a training set, which you give to the learner, and a test set, which you hide from it and use to verify its accuracy. Accuracy on held-out data is the gold standard in machine learning.
Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn From Their Mistakes--But Some Do by Matthew Syed
Airbus A320, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, Atul Gawande, Black Swan, British Empire, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, crew resource management, deliberate practice, double helix, epigenetics, fear of failure, fundamental attribution error, Henri Poincaré, hindsight bias, Isaac Newton, iterative process, James Dyson, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Johannes Kepler, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, mandatory minimum, meta analysis, meta-analysis, minimum viable product, publication bias, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, Shai Danziger, Silicon Valley, six sigma, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, US Airways Flight 1549, Wall-E, Yom Kippur War
This was a failure for Aristotle and a painful blow to his followers, many of whom were outraged by the experiment. But it was a profound victory for science. For if Aristotle was wrong, scientists were handed the impetus to figure out why and come up with new theories that, in turn, could be subjected to future falsification. This is, at least in part, how science progresses.* The same idea can be seen in relation to Einstein’s theory of relativity. In 1919 a British scientist named Arthur Eddington traveled to Africa to test one of relativity’s most novel claims: that light is attracted to heavy bodies. During an eclipse he took photographs of a distant star to see if he could detect the influence of gravity on the light rays coming toward Earth. Eddington’s experiment corroborated the theory.4 But the key point is that it might not have. Relativity was vulnerable to experimental falsification.
Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell
Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Benoit Mandelbrot, bioinformatics, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, dark matter, discrete time, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, Paul Erdős, peer-to-peer, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, scientific worldview, stem cell, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Turing machine
The next three chapters give some background on these subjects, and later in the book we see how ideas from dynamics are being combined with ideas from information theory, computation, and evolution. CHAPTER 3 Information The law that entropy increases—the Second Law of Thermodynamics—holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature… [I] f your theory is found to be against the Second Law of Thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation. —Sir Arthur Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World COMPLEX SYSTEMS ARE OFTEN said to be “self-organizing”: consider, for example, the strong, structured bridges made by army ants; the synchronous flashing of fireflies; the mutually sustaining markets of an economy; and the development of specialized organs by stem cells—all are examples of self-organization. Order is created out of disorder, upending the usual turn of events in which order decays and disorder (or entropy) wins out.
Think Like a Rocket Scientist by Ozan Varol
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, Andrew Wiles, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Arthur Eddington, autonomous vehicles, Ben Horowitz, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, dark matter, delayed gratification, different worldview, discovery of DNA, double helix, Elon Musk, fear of failure, functional fixedness, Gary Taubes, George Santayana, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Inbox Zero, index fund, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Johannes Kepler, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, late fees, lateral thinking, lone genius, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, Marc Andreessen, Mars Rover, meta analysis, meta-analysis, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, multiplanetary species, obamacare, Occam's razor, out of africa, Peter Thiel, Pluto: dwarf planet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Upton Sinclair, Vilfredo Pareto, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, Yogi Berra
Rather, it requires a conscious type of uncertainty where you become fully aware of what you don’t know in order to learn and grow. Yes, this approach may illuminate things you don’t want to see. But it’s far better to be uncomfortably uncertain than comfortably wrong. In the end, it’s the confused apes—the connoisseurs of uncertainty—that transform the world. Connoisseurs of Uncertainty “Something unknown is doing we don’t know what—that is what our theory amounts to.”22 This is how the astrophysicist Arthur Eddington described the state of quantum theory in 1929. He may as well have been speaking about our understanding of the entire universe. Astronomers live and work in a dark mansion that’s only 5 percent lit. Roughly 95 percent of the universe is made up of ominous-sounding stuff called dark matter and dark energy.23 They don’t interact with light, so we can’t see or otherwise detect them. We know nothing about their nature.
The Burning Answer: The Solar Revolution: A Quest for Sustainable Power by Keith Barnham
Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, carbon footprint, credit crunch, decarbonisation, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, Ernest Rutherford, hydraulic fracturing, hydrogen economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Kickstarter, Naomi Klein, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, uranium enrichment, wikimedia commons
This is the main contribution to our carbon emissions. The second biggest contribution comes from transport related carbon releases. Before we consider ways to reduce these, we should try to answer the responses that governments are likely to make to a call for a moratorium on all forms of electricity generation apart from the renewables. TEN The Politics of the Solar Revolution Science is one thing, wisdom is another. Arthur Eddington This chapter will consider two burning questions that have been smouldering throughout The Burning Answer. Why is the solar revolution developing at very different speeds in different countries? What can we do to speed up the revolution in the countries lagging behind? We have seen that Britain is way behind Germany in introducing solar technologies, so I will focus mainly on these two countries and the political and technical factors that have given Germany its lead.
Cosmos by Carl Sagan
Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, clockwork universe, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, music of the spheres, pattern recognition, planetary scale, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, spice trade, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, Tunguska event
.* Nevertheless, most of the mass of an atom is in its nucleus; the electrons are by comparison just clouds of moving fluff. Atoms are mainly empty space. Matter is composed chiefly of nothing. I am made of atoms. My elbow, which is resting on the table before me, is made of atoms. The table is made of atoms. But if atoms are so small and empty and the nuclei smaller still, why does the table hold me up? Why, as Arthur Eddington liked to ask, do the nuclei that comprise my elbow not slide effortlessly through the nuclei that comprise the table? Why don’t I wind up on the floor? Or fall straight through the Earth? The answer is the electron cloud. The outside of an atom in my elbow has a negative electrical charge. So does every atom in the table. But negative charges repel each other. My elbow does not slither through the table because atoms have electrons around their nuclei and because electrical forces are strong.
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins
Alfred Russel Wallace, Andrew Wiles, Arthur Eddington, back-to-the-land, Claude Shannon: information theory, correlation does not imply causation, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, Danny Hillis, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, experimental subject, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, invisible hand, Louis Pasteur, out of africa, phenotype, Thomas Malthus
Or some of it may be sequestered underground, first as peat and then as coal. But the universal trend towards ultimate heat death is never reversed. In every link of the food chain, and through every trickle-down cascade within every cell, some of the energy is degraded to uselessness. Perpetual motion machines are . . . all right, that’s enough repetition, but I won’t apologize for quoting, as I have done in at least one previous book, the marvellous saying of Sir Arthur Eddington on the subject: If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.
What We Cannot Know: Explorations at the Edge of Knowledge by Marcus Du Sautoy
Albert Michelson, Andrew Wiles, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Arthur Eddington, banking crisis, bet made by Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, Black Swan, Brownian motion, clockwork universe, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Ernest Rutherford, Georg Cantor, Hans Lippershey, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, Necker cube, Paul Erdős, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Richard Feynman, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, Solar eclipse in 1919, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, technological singularity, Thales of Miletus, Turing test, wikimedia commons
Pull against gravity and you are accelerating and thus slowing your clock down. So Einstein’s theory predicted that light would be bent by the presence of a large mass. It was a highly unexpected prediction of the theory, but one that could be tested: a perfect scenario for a scientific theory. Convincing evidence for this picture of a curved space-time was provided by the British astronomer Arthur Eddington’s observations of light from distant stars recorded during the solar eclipse of 1919. The theory predicted that the light from distant stars would be bent by the gravitational effect of the Sun. Eddington needed the eclipse to block out the glare of the Sun so that he could see the stars in the sky. The fact that the light did indeed seem to bend round objects of large mass confirmed that the shortest paths weren’t Euclidean straight lines but curved.
Radical Uncertainty: Decision-Making for an Unknowable Future by Mervyn King, John Kay
"Robert Solow", Airbus A320, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, algorithmic trading, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Arthur Eddington, autonomous vehicles, availability heuristic, banking crisis, Barry Marshall: ulcers, battle of ideas, Benoit Mandelbrot, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, Brownian motion, business cycle, business process, capital asset pricing model, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic transition, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Edward Thorp, Elon Musk, Ethereum, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, experimental subject, fear of failure, feminist movement, financial deregulation, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, Hans Rosling, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income per capita, incomplete markets, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Snow's cholera map, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nash equilibrium, Nate Silver, new economy, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, Pierre-Simon Laplace, popular electronics, price mechanism, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, railway mania, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, sealed-bid auction, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Socratic dialogue, South Sea Bubble, spectrum auction, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, The Chicago School, the map is not the territory, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Davenport, Thomas Malthus, Toyota Production System, transaction costs, ultimatum game, urban planning, value at risk, World Values Survey, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game
Friedman’s article appeared in a brief period of intellectual history in which a version of Popperian falsificationism – the idea that a hypothesis acquires scientific status only if there is a possibility that it might be refuted – was in fashion. Falsificationism enjoyed its moment in (or rather out of) the sun in May 1919, when an experiment devised by Frank Dyson was conducted by fellow British astronomer Arthur Eddington on the island of Príncipe off West Africa during a total solar eclipse. Eddington established that Einstein’s theory of relativity correctly predicted the path of light and Newton’s view of gravitational fields did not. Einstein became an international celebrity, and two years later received the Nobel Prize in Physics. 22 But even in physics such conclusive tests are rare. Among other things, the experiment required that the rays of the sun be completely blacked out.
Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Atahualpa, Cepheid variable, Commentariolus, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, delayed gratification, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Gary Taubes, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John Harrison: Longitude, Karl Jansky, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, planetary scale, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Solar eclipse in 1919, source of truth, Stephen Hawking, Thales of Miletus, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers
New York: Harper, 1956, 1966. —————. The Phenomenon of Man. New York: Harper, 1959. Cheng, David C., and Gerard K. O’Neill. Elementary Particle Physics. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1979. Graduate-level textbook. Child, J.M. The Geometrical Lectures of Isaac Barrow. Chicago: Open Court, 1916. Choquet-Bruhat, Y., and T.M. Karade. On Relativity Theory. Singapore: World Scientific, 1984. Proceedings of an Arthur Eddington centenary symposium. Christianson, Gale E. In the Presence of the Creator: Isaac Newton and His Times. New York: Free Press, 1984. Cicero. De Fato, trans. H. Rackham. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982. Timeless critique of philosophical issues in cosmology. —————. The Nature of the Gods, trans. H.C.P. McGregory. London: Penguin, 1984. Translation of De Natura Deorum.
The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan by Robert Kanigel
Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, British Empire, computer age, Copley Medal, creative destruction, Fellow of the Royal Society, Filipino sailors, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Isaac Newton, Mahatma Gandhi, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, the market place, upwardly mobile
The following morning, under a steady drizzle and dark, brooding clouds (the leading edge of a hurricane moving up the Atlantic Coast), sixty-two of the world’s most distinguished biologists, chemists, anthropologists, and other scholars received honorary degrees. They marched in a procession from Widener Library and took their places on stands erected in front of the pillars of Memorial Church at the yard’s north end. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung was among them. So was Jean Piaget, the pioneer student of child development. So was English astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington. So was Hardy. The citation honoring him, slipped within the red leather presentation book stamped with Harvard’s Veritas seal, called him “a British mathematician who has led the advance to heights deemed inaccessible by previous generations.” During his stay at Harvard, Hardy was put up at the house of a prominent lawyer, who later became a United States senator. Both he and his host, according to one account, were worried: whatever would they talk about?
Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought by Andrew W. Lo
"Robert Solow", Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, algorithmic trading, Andrei Shleifer, Arthur Eddington, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, backtesting, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, break the buck, Brownian motion, business cycle, business process, butterfly effect, buy and hold, capital asset pricing model, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Carmen Reinhart, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computerized trading, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Diane Coyle, diversification, diversified portfolio, double helix, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Ernest Rutherford, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, framing effect, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, housing crisis, incomplete markets, index fund, interest rate derivative, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Meriwether, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, martingale, merger arbitrage, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, money market fund, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Nick Leeson, old-boy network, out of africa, p-value, paper trading, passive investing, Paul Lévy, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, predatory finance, prediction markets, price discovery process, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative hedge fund, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, RAND corporation, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sam Peltzman, Shai Danziger, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Stanford prison experiment, statistical arbitrage, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, stocks for the long run, survivorship bias, Thales and the olive presses, The Great Moderation, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, ultimatum game, Upton Sinclair, US Airways Flight 1549, Walter Mischel, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game
It is the least adapted individuals that in every generation are eliminated first, while those that are better adapted have a greater chance to survive and reproduce.”6 If this process sounds like trial and error, that’s because it is. The surprising fact is how powerful a force of change trial and error can be. Consider a slight variation on the thought experiment first proposed by the astrophysicist Arthur Eddington in 1928: “If an army of monkeys were strumming on typewriters they might write all the books in the British Museum.”7 Let’s simplify this a bit: how long would it take for a single monkey pounding on a keyboard to type the entire text of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet? Intuitively we know it would take a vast amount of time for this to happen, much longer than a typical monkey’s lifespan. But what if there was a secret way we could get a readable copy of Hamlet from a randomly typing monkey in a very short time?
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Arthur Eddington, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Brownian motion, California gold rush, Cepheid variable, clean water, Copley Medal, cosmological constant, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Attenborough, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, out of africa, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers
Among the more lasting errors in his report was the assertion that Einstein had found a publisher daring enough to publish a book that only twelve men “in all the world could comprehend.” There was no such book, no such publisher, no such circle of learned men, but the notion stuck anyway. Soon the number of people who could grasp relativity had been reduced even further in the popular imagination—and the scientific establishment, it must be said, did little to disturb the myth. When a journalist asked the British astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington if it was true that he was one of only three people in the world who could understand Einstein's relativity theories, Eddington considered deeply for a moment and replied: “I am trying to think who the third person is.” In fact, the problem with relativity wasn't that it involved a lot of differential equations, Lorentz transformations, and other complicated mathematics (though it did—even Einstein needed help with some of it), but that it was just so thoroughly nonintuitive.
Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick
Albert Einstein, American ideology, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Ernest Rutherford, gravity well, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, pattern recognition, Pepto Bismol, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Schrödinger's Cat, sexual politics, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, uranium enrichment
How embarrassing, therefore, that time seemed so one-way in the real world, where a small amount of energy could scramble an egg or shatter a dish and where unscrambling and unshattering were beyond the power of science. “Time’s arrow” was already the catchphrase for this directionality, so evident to common experience, yet so invisible in the equations of physicists. There, in the equations, the road from past to future looked identical to the road from future to past. “There is no signboard to indicate that it is a one-way street,” complained Arthur Eddington. The paradox had been there all along, since Newton at least, but relativity had highlighted it. The mathematician Hermann Minkowski, by visualizing time as a fourth dimension, had begun to reduce past-future to the status of any pair of directions: left-right, up-down, back-front. The physicist drawing his diagrams obtains a God’s-eye view. In the space-time picture a line representing the path of a particle through time simply exists, past and future visible together.
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker
3D printing, access to a mobile phone, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, Arthur Eddington, artificial general intelligence, availability heuristic, Ayatollah Khomeini, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, clockwork universe, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, distributed generation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, double helix, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, end world poverty, endogenous growth, energy transition, European colonialism, experimental subject, Exxon Valdez, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, frictionless, frictionless market, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, Hans Rosling, hedonic treadmill, helicopter parent, Hobbesian trap, humanitarian revolution, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Snow's cholera map, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, Laplace demon, life extension, long peace, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, Martin Wolf, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Nathan Meyer Rothschild: antibiotics, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, obamacare, open economy, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, precision agriculture, prediction markets, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Republic of Letters, Richard Feynman, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Saturday Night Live, science of happiness, Scientific racism, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, supervolcano, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, union organizing, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey, Y2K
The Law of Entropy is widely acknowledged in everyday life in sayings such as “Things fall apart,” “Rust never sleeps,” “Shit happens,” “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong,” and (from the Texas lawmaker Sam Rayburn) “Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one.” Scientists appreciate that the Second Law is far more than an explanation of everyday nuisances. It is a foundation of our understanding of the universe and our place in it. In 1928 the physicist Arthur Eddington wrote: The law that entropy always increases . . . holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations—then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation—well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.2 In his famous 1959 Rede lectures, published as The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, the scientist and novelist C.
Surfaces and Essences by Douglas Hofstadter, Emmanuel Sander
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, Benoit Mandelbrot, Brownian motion, cognitive dissonance, computer age, computer vision, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Ernest Rutherford, experimental subject, Flynn Effect, Georg Cantor, Gerolamo Cardano, Golden Gate Park, haute couture, haute cuisine, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, l'esprit de l'escalier, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, place-making, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, theory of mind, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, yellow journalism, zero-sum game
However, for reasons too technical to go into here, this effect would be observable only during a total solar eclipse, and so, already in 1907, he urged that this effect be sought by astronomical observers. The German astronomer Erwin Finlay-Freundlich carefully examined many hundreds of photos of solar eclipses to find evidence of the minuscule effect, but found none. In fact it turned out to be necessary to wait twelve years longer, until 1919, for the confirmation of this prediction during a total eclipse observed by an English team led by the physicist Arthur Eddington from two islands in the south Atlantic Ocean. The global effect of Eddington’s team’s confirmation was phenomenal. Not only did Einstein’s prediction hit the bull’s-eye, but the world, just emerging from under the dark pall cast by the “Great War”, was thrilled that an English team had confirmed a fantastic prediction made by an “enemy” scientist (even if Einstein had renounced his German citizenship and become Swiss in order to distance himself from German militarism); indeed, many people saw Eddington’s confirmation of Einstein’s prediction as a moment of great glory for humanity as a whole.
Rationality: From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky
Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, anti-pattern, anti-work, Arthur Eddington, artificial general intelligence, availability heuristic, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, Build a better mousetrap, Cass Sunstein, cellular automata, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological constant, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, different worldview, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, effective altruism, experimental subject, Extropian, friendly AI, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, index card, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, Nash equilibrium, Necker cube, NP-complete, P = NP, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, planetary scale, prediction markets, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, scientific worldview, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Solar eclipse in 1919, speech recognition, statistical model, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the map is not the territory, the scientific method, Turing complete, Turing machine, ultimatum game, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game
It would be so much more fun, and so much less expensive, if we just decided to repeal the law that cars need fuel. Isn’t it just obviously better for everyone? Well, you can try, if that is your whim. You can even shut your eyes and pretend the car is moving. But to really arrive at accurate beliefs requires evidence-fuel, and the further you want to go, the more fuel you need. * 24 Einstein’s Arrogance In 1919, Sir Arthur Eddington led expeditions to Brazil and to the island of Principe, aiming to observe solar eclipses and thereby test an experimental prediction of Einstein’s novel theory of General Relativity. A journalist asked Einstein what he would do if Eddington’s observations failed to match his theory. Einstein famously replied: “Then I would feel sorry for the good Lord. The theory is correct.” It seems like a rather foolhardy statement, defying the trope of Traditional Rationality that experiment above all is sovereign.