Before 1919, cosmology was as subjective as art history. A solar eclipse, and a patent clerk's equations, changed everything.

A century ago, on May 29, 1919, the universe was momentarily perturbed, and Albert Einstein became famous.

Einstein himself apparently had no special plans for what he knew could be a momentous day. He was home in Berlin. He wrote a letter admitting a "blunder" in an ongoing debate with Theodor Kaluza, a German mathematician with a new notion of space-time that required five dimensions.

He betrayed no jitters about the fact that, on that day in May, two scientific expeditions

Advertisement
Advertisement