AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 37. HAD III: Biography of 19th and 20th Century Astronomers
Oral, Monday, January 6, 2003, 2:00-3:30pm, 613-614

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[37.04] Curtis versus Einstein

R.P. Lindner (The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

Wallace Campbell's later Lick Observatory solar eclipse expeditions included observations intended to test Albert Einstein's predicted bending of starlight passing near the sun. Heber D. Curtis, who had written about Einstein's theory of special relativity already before World War I, spent a great deal of time and effort measuring one set of plates, but he became director of Allegheny Observatory before satisfactorily completing the work. For the rest of his career, Curtis was part of the ``reception" of general relativity in the U.S., and for some years he taught the theory to graduate students. Curtis never accepted the theory and argued against it with students and colleagues, in seminars, meetings, and in print. His arguments are fascinating in terms of Curtis's desire to master the theoretical arguments, disturbing in personal terms. Here I examine the development of Curtis's views and his influence against the background of Einstein's success among the younger generation of astronomers and in the community of midwestern physicists.

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The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: rpl@umich.edu

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