The simple mechanics of total solar eclipse exposes deep-seated fundamentals of spacetime. Total solar eclipse occurs in an event of earth, moon, and sun alignment such that moon fully blocks out the sun, casting its shadow on earth on the zone of totality. What remains on sky is sun’s corona shimmering behind the bulbous moon: Includes a rendering imaginatively known as diamond ring. On August 21, 2017 we will transit such a mesmerizing and momentous (literally!) event, and the eclipse experts, chasers and broadcasters have their bits and takes on this. Here are some genuine picks (1, 2) for those interested in details, and here is an interactive map of the upcoming totality. This year the ASP (Astronomical Society of the Pacific) is holding its annual meeting just for the purpose of convening the ideas and topics around the wonder of total solar eclipse, particularly toward preparing the upcoming 2017 one. Those interested in cosmic magnificence, and like to partake in grasping the nature of reality, would truly benefit from the event.
As profound as the cosmic phenomenon itself is, total solar eclipse has been pivotal in our understanding of the way universe shapes and continues, and a linchpin in rubber stamping a revolutionary theory to be a truly authentic reality. On the May 29 of 1919, an English astronomer, physicist, and mathematician, Arthur Eddington, captured total solar eclipse on the island of Principe to validate Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. General relativity offered to blend gravity in the earlier picture of Einstein’s own special relativity, showing that gravity is the geometry of spacetime itself. The endeavor set out by Eddington and his team pinned the precise bending of light that occurs due to the presence of a massive body, in accordance with the principle of general relativity, thus fully endorsing Einstein’s Magnum Opus. Sun as a massive body too bends light that travel from distant stars, but we cannot verify such bending simply because sun’s intense glare blocks out the positions of distant stars. The shade of a total solar eclipse enables us to measure such deflections in the position of stars, as the sun observes its gravity.
The ramifications of general relativity are wide and far reaching, many we are still trying to fathom: From the origin of the universe to the existence of black holes (remember the fascinating Interstellar Gargantua), the phenomenon of wormhole, the prodigiously expanding universe to speculations of dark matter and dark energy to the recent detection of gravitational waves that employed state of the art technological sensitivity (10-16 cm in 4 km). General relativity has stood a century of experimental verifications, one recent with the validation of gravitational waves by LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), and some tests are still brewing that involve extraordinary precisions to further endorse general relativity, like appraising the contortions due to the black hole at the center of our galaxy or seeing the free fall of different materials in space missions.
The theory has shown the way universe propels, but also made our lives efficient on a daily basis. General relativity is a part of GPS navigation that we employ every day. Two well crafted titles that shed light on this deeply enriching theory are 1) The Perfect Theory by Pedro Ferreira, and 2) Big Bang by Simon Singh.
The first real validation of general relativity was ticked by the 1919 total solar eclipse. I will be attending the ASP meeting, and in the context of total solar eclipse, I will be speaking on the fundamental architecture of spacetime that the general relativity imparted.
For those interested in cosmic mechanics, deeper universal structure, or just scientific outreach to a wider community, it will be a good venue to participate and connect.
See you soon,