BLTC Press Titles

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Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe

Vanity Fair

William Thackery

The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

From Newton to Einstein

by Benjamin Harrow


These words were uttered by Sir J. J. Thomson, the president of the Royal Society, at a meeting of that body held on November 6,1919, to discuss the results of the Eclipse Expedition.

Einstein another Newton—and this from the lips of J. J. Thomson, England's most illustrious physicist! If ever man weighed words carefully it is this Cambridge professor, whose own researches have assured him immortality for all time.

What has this Albert Einstein done to merit such extraordinary praise? With the world in turmoil, with classes and races in a death struggle, with millions suffering and starving, why do we find time to turn our attention to this Swiss Jew? His ideas have no bearing on Europe's calamity. They will not add one bushel of wheat to starving populations.

The answer is not hard to find. Men come and men go, but the mystery of the universe remains. It is Einstein's glory to have given us a deeper insight into the universe. Our scientists are Huxley's agnostics: they do not deny activities beyond our planet; they merely center their attention on the knowable on this earth. Our philosophers, on the other hand, go far afield. Some of them soar so high that, like one poet's opinion of Shelley, the bubble bursts. Einstein, using the tools of the scientist—the experimentalist—builded a skyscraper which ultimately reached the philosophical school. His role is the role of alcohol in causing water and ether (the anaesthetic) to mix. Ether and water will mix no better than oil and water, without the presence of alcohol; in its presence a uniform mixture is obtained.

And now we are going to give reasons why Einstein is worth the trouble we are taking with him.

The Object of the Eclipse Expedition. Einstein prophesied that a ray of light passing near the sun would be pulled out of its course, due to the action of gravity. He went even further. He predicted how much out of its course the ray would be deflected. This prediction was based on a theory of gravitation which Einstein had developed in great mathematical detail. The object of the British Eclipse Expedition was either to prove or disprove Einstein's assumption.

The Result of the Expedition. Einstein's prophecy was fulfilled almost to the letter.

The Significance of the Result. Since Einstein's theory of gravitation is intimately associated with certain revolutionary ideas concerning time and space, and, therefore, with Fundamentals of the Universe, the net result of the expedition was to strengthen our belief in the validity of his new view of the universe.

It is our intention in the following pages to discuss the expedition and the larger aspects of Einstein's theory that follow from it. But before we do so we must have a clear idea of our solar system. ,

Our Solar System. In the center of our system is the sun, a flaming mass of fire, much bigger than our own earth, and very, very far away. The sun has its family of eight planets—of which the earth is one—which travel around the sun; and around some of the planets there travel satellites, or moons. The earth has such a satellite, the moon.

Now we have good reasons for believing that every star which twinkles in the sky is a sun comparable to our own, having also its own planets and its own moons. These stars, or suns, are so much further away from us than our own sun, that but a speck of their light reaches us, and then only at night, when, as the poets would say, our sun has gone to its resting place.

The distances between bodies in the solar system is so immense that, like the number of dollars spent in the Great War, the number of miles conveys little, or no impression. But picture yourself in an express train going at the average rate of 30 miles an hour. If you start from New York and travel continuously you would reach San Francisco in 4 days. If you could continue your journey around the earth at the same rate you would complete it in 35 days. If now you could travel into space and to the moon, still with the same velocity, you would reach it in 350 days. Having reached the moon, you could circumscribe it with the same express train in 8 days, as compared to the 35 days it would take you to circumscribe the earth. If instead of travelling to the moon you would book your passage for the sun you, or rather your descendants, would get there in 350 years, and it would then take them 10 additional years to travel around the sun.

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