Courage Boys features stories to inspire and leave you feeling hopeful. Making a difference is not only possible, but something we’re all capable of accomplishing. These are the stories of ordinary people making the decision to be extraordinary with bravery, resilience and principle. This is Courage Boys.
At the beginning of World War I, which Germans dubbed "the Science War," the English named Arthur Eddington, a Quaker, the chief astronomer at Cambridge University.
When the Royal Academy of Sciences asked him to research a young Swiss scientist in Berlin named Albert Einstein, Eddington pulled out everything they had on him --- one small booklet. Eddington was confounded by what he saw.
Hurrying back to the other professors, the Quaker scientist reported that Einstein was developing a theory called "relativity," proposing his own theory of gravitation and challenging Newton's theory.
"Whom has he cited, and whom has he credited," asked one of the professors.
"Nobody, sir," Eddington said. "Nobody at all. There's not a single footnote."
The professors dismissed the news of Einstein's research.
That night, Eddington secretly wrote to Albert Einstein. With the war escalating, English scientists were beginning to cease communication with their German colleagues. However, as a Quaker, Eddington didn't claim to be at war with anyone, so he wrote to Einstein.
Within weeks, Einstein, also against the war, kindly responded. He shared new developments to his theory, and relativity began to make sense to Eddington. He wrote back with more questions. As the best measurement man in all of Europe, Eddington was beginning to believe Einstein and hoped the two could meet.
And then it happened --- April 22nd, 1915 --- Germany attacked with gas, killing 17,000. One of those killed was the son of Eddington's Cambridge colleague, Oliver Lodge.
A meeting was called and it was proposed that all communications with the German scientists end. Putting his career and reputation on the line, Eddington objected. The room erupted. Eddington's integrity, patriotism and academic credentials were all questioned, and the motion to cease all contact passed in spite of his objection.
Nevertheless, he continued to sneak letters to Einstein.
When the war ended, Eddington approached the board, requesting a grant for a proof of Einstein's theory. They bristled at the thought of spending Cambridge money to prove Newton wrong by a German. Prepared for just such a reaction, Eddington stated it was their chance to prove Newton was right --- and it worked.
Eddington and his team carried out the experiment with cameras and telescopes, under a completely solar eclipse in Principia, Africa. If starlight bent toward the sun during the eclipse, Einstein was right. If not, Newton was right.
Returning to England with the undeveloped film, Eddington revealed the results to himself, the international press and hundreds of onlookers all at the same. Leaning into the light box to view the film, he gasped at what he saw --- he knew he was looking at history. The photographs showed the light bending, proving Einstein's theory to be correct.
Einstein won the Nobel Prize the very next year, and he was invited to visit Cambridge University in England.