Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Saint of Light

"Light is a wave, waves must pass through some medium like air or water. Therefore light as a wave must be passing through a medium, whether we can detect it or not. We shall call this medium the Either." If you were a 19th century physicist, you were trained that this was correct. You knew it was because the logic was irrefutable. The experiments confirmed this. The universe was filled with something called the Either. We could not see it, but we could see its effects by how it allowed light to be transmitted.

Then along comes our Saint and in 1905 he said "NO, you are wrong. I will tell you why." He was called an idiot, and a host of other names. His math was compelling to new physicists that didn't know any better, but any experienced scientist had already gone down that road and knew it to be a dead end. If science were like many other fields, then that would have been the end, but science is filled with scientists each striving not only for the truth but to be the one that discovered it. A bunch of young scientists could find no flaw, and in spite of all the senior scientists saying he was nuts, Albert Einstein began to get serious notice.

Finally along comes the day when Einstein had to be put to the test. The place, Sobral in Brazil, the day 29 May 1919. Would the total solar eclipse bend the light around the sun so that the Hyadeas could be seen? It took until November of that year for the analysis to be done and a special meeting of the Royal Society to be called. However the proof was clear. Einstein was not an idiot, far from it. He was right. Space was flexible, time shifting, light was not just a wave, the universe changed. It was not an easy road to be part of the change. Careers were lost, Einstein himself suffered ridicule and shame, with only a few brave scientists willing even to talk to him for fear some of his craziness would rub off on them. He could have given up. He could have just shut up and then gotten a good paying job and supported his family. However that is not the way of Saints of Science. The facts to him were clear, though he listened no one could argue with his math. He had many try though, but he always won, since he explained it all, and they could not. His truth was testable, and when tested, proved he was right.

This is why we honor Albert Einstein as a Saint of Science, not because he was right but because he searched for and found the truth, and when he found it he refused to be swayed by people he knew were wrong. It is men that search for the truth that enlighten us all. Thank you sir.

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