“Was Einstein Right?”

The history of the quest for the theory of relativity

June 18, 2008

Lecture by Prof. Clifford Will, Washington University on Monday, 7 July at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Main Building, Lecture Hall 3075, Unter den Linden 6, 10117 Berlin.

The lecture is taking place at the invitation of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) on the 10th anniversary of Living Reviews in Relativity.

The theories of Albert Einstein have been the measure of all things for more than 100 years. Generations of scientists have oriented themselves to them – building, researching, measuring. They have initiated interplanetary probes, invented radio telescopes and super-accurate atomic clocks. In short, they have been able to look more deeply into our universe than anyone has been able to before. The scientists are giving their all to check the ideas and predictions of a single man. Was Einstein really right?  Does the most important scientific theory of the twentieth century still hold water 100 years later?

Prof. Clifford Will from Washington University will answer this question in his lecture. His lecture will range from the first measurement of diffracted light in 1919 to modern investigations of double neutron star systems all the way to an experiment in outer space conducted in 2004 that sought to determine whether space-time really “bends.”

Future observations with gravitational wave detectors and other astronomical tools will subject Einstein’s theory to one last test - and could prove that black holes exist. Will’s book “Was Einstein right? - Testing Relativity at the Centenary” (2005) about experimental tests of relativity is widely regarded as a fundamental work for research in this field. His popular science book on the same subject was selected by the New York Times in 1986 to be placed in its list of the 200 best publications of the year.

Living Reviews

The presentation by Clifford Will takes place on the 10th anniversary of the online journal Living Reviews in RelativityLiving Reviews in Relativity presents online articles, so-called reviews, which are written by outstanding scientists in the area of relativity theory and then regularly updated. The reader is therefore always kept up-to-date with research in the relevant subject area. In addition, special navigation tools and links to other sources in the network create a special dynamism and user friendliness within the articles. The success of Living Reviews in Relativity is mainly due to its perception of itself as a service of scientists for scientists and the fact that high-quality articles are free of charge in accordance with the Open Access movement.

Clifford Martin Will

is Professor of Physics and a member of the McDonnell Space Science Center at Washington University in St. Louis. Born in Canada, he was schooled there and studied at McMaster University, receiving his Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics in 1968. In 1971 he earned a Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and remained there as a lecturer in physics for an additional year. Clifford Will was an Enrico Fermi Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago from 1972 to 1974. In 1974, he joined the faculty of Stanford University as an Assistant Professor of Physics. Since 1981, he has worked at Washington University in St. Louis, first as an Associate Professor, then as a Professor of Physics and since 2005 as a McDonnell Professor. In 2007, he was elected to be a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

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