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Eddington and Uncertainty


Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882-1944) is acknowledged to be one of the greatest astrophysicists of the twentieth century, yet his reputation suffered in the 1930s when he embarked on a quest to develop a unified theory of gravity and quantum mechanics. His attempt ultimately proved to be fruitless and was regarded by many physicists as misguided. I will show, however, that Eddington’s work was not so outlandish. His theory applied quantum-mechanical uncertainty to the reference frames of relativity and actually foreshadowed several later results. His philosophy regarding determinism and uncertainty also was quite orthodox at the time. I first review Eddington’s life and philosophy and then discuss his work within the context of his search for a theory of quantum gravity.

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Correspondence to Ian T. Durham.

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Durham, I.T. Eddington and Uncertainty. Phys. perspect. 5, 398–418 (2003).

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  • Arthur Stanley Eddington
  • Edward Arthur Milne
  • Joseph Larmor
  • history of cosmology
  • relativity
  • quantum mechanics
  • quantum gravity