Arthur Eddington was a renowned scientist who is credited with establishing numerous renowned theories, including the ‘Eddington number’ and ‘Eddington limit. He was born into a middle-class family, and following his father’s tragic death, his mother assumed responsibility for the family. He was educated at home prior to starting school. As a student, he excelled and earned several scholarships that aided in his further studies. His outstanding academic performance at ‘Owens College’ earned him admission to the prestigious ‘University of Manchester’. Physics was his field of study, and he earned a bachelor’s degree with a major in the subject. He was educated under the tutelage of eminent scholars such as Arthur Schuster, Horace Lamb, John William Graham, and Robert Alfred Herman, who imparted vast knowledge and aided in his development. He conducted experiments, conducted rigorous research, and established theories that were revolutionary in the world of physics. He was an astronomer who conducted research and developed theories about the interiors of stars and their motions. He was the first English physicist to present Einstein’s theory of relativity in its entirety. His books provide answers to numerous questions about the universe; however, his fatal disease ended his investigation of the ‘fundamental theory.’
Childhood & Adolescence
He was born in Kendal, Cumbria, on 28th December 1882 to Arthur Henry Eddington and Sarah Ann Shout (formerly known as Westmorland). His father died in the ‘typhoid epidemic of 1884’ when he was two years old. Arthur’s mother raised him and his sister.
The family relocated to Weston-super-Mare, where Eddington was initially educated at home before attending preparatory school. In 1893, he enrolled at the ‘Brynmelyn School,’ where he excelled in all subjects, especially English and Mathematics.
He enrolled at Manchester’s ‘Owens College’ (now known as the ‘University of Manchester’) in 1898, aided by a scholarship.
He began his studies at the institute with a general course and later switched to physics as a discipline. There, he studied under renowned physicist Arthur Schuster and mathematician Horace Lamb, both of whom had a significant influence on him.
J. W. Graham, whom he met during his stay at ‘Dalton Hall,’ was another mathematician who inspired him. He earned a First Class Honours degree in B.Sc. with physics in 1902.
In 1902, he enrolled at the ‘University of Cambridge”s ‘Trinity College’ with the assistance of a scholarship he received for his performance at the previous institution. He studied at the university under the able tutelage of Robert Alfred Herman.
In 1904, he earned the title of ‘Senior Wrangler,’ which was first given to a second-year student. This was once considered the pinnacle of intellectual achievement in the United Kingdom.
Career of Arthur Eddington
He earned his M.A. in 1905 and then worked in the ‘Cavendish Laboratory’. Simultaneously, he taught mathematics to a small group of engineering students.
In 1906, he moved from Cambridge to Greenwich after being appointed chief assistant to the ‘Astronomer Royal’ at the ‘Royal Greenwich Observatory.
He was investigating the parallax, or displacement in position, of the asteroid ‘433 Eros’ on photographic plates.
In 1912, George Darwin, Charles Darwin’s son, died as the ‘Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy’ at ‘Cambridge University,’ and Arthur was appointed to the post the following year.
Eddington was appointed Director of the ‘Cambridge Observatory’ in 1914, following the death of astronomer Robert Ball, who held the position of ‘Lowndean Professor of Astronomy and Geometry’ at Cambridge. He was elected a ‘Fellow of the Royal Society’ the following year.
In 1914, he published the astronomical article ‘Stellar Movements and the Structure of the Universe,’ in which he discussed his analytical studies of star movement in the Milky Way galaxy.
He conducted scientific research and testified in support of Einstein’s ‘Theory of Relativity’ during World War I.
In 1916, he studied stars and analyzed the ‘Emden polytropic models,’ which viewed stars as spheres of gas, with the thermal pressure of the sphere of gas acting as a counterbalance to gravity. Eddington concluded that, in addition to thermal pressure, radiation pressure is necessary to prevent stars collapsing.
Even though his theory of the stars lacked a firm foundation, it aided in the computation of the density, temperature, and pressure of the star’s interior. Eddington defended his theory despite its flaws and wished for its preservation because he believed it would prove useful in astrophysics.
In 1924, he established the relationship between a star’s mass and luminosity through his astronomical investigations. According to the theory, the size of a star and its luminosity are directly related.
Even though some members of the scientific community condemned his theories and models, many of the leading minds of that era recognized his theories’ utility in understanding the process of stellar evolution.
Arthur also devised a method for determining a cyclist’s riding ability, which he dubbed the ‘Eddington number’.
He published numerous works in 1920, including ‘The Mechanical Theory of Relativity,’ ‘The Domain of Physical Science,’ ‘Stars and Atoms,’ and ‘The Internal Structure of Stars.’
In 1926, his book ‘The Internal Constitution of the Stars’ became a best-seller and was also used as a standard textbook for astrophysics students.
He also wrote several philosophical works, including ‘The Nature of the Physical World,’ which was published in 1928, and ‘Science and the Unseen World,’ which was published the following year.
Between 1930 and 1939, he wrote prolifically, including ‘Why I Believe in God: Science and Religion as a Scientist Sees Them’, ‘The Expanding Universe: Astronomy’s Greatest Debate’, ‘New Pathways in Science’, ‘Relativity Theory of Protons and Electrons’, and ‘Philosophy of Physical Science’.
Significant Works of Arthur Eddington
This eminent scientist was involved in a great deal of research, which included the study of astronomy, physics, relativity, and the motions of stars, among other subjects. The most significant of his investigations, however, was his pursuit of a ‘fundamental theory.’ He desired to establish a single link between numerous disciplines, including gravitation, quantum theory, cosmology, and relativity.
However, he was unable to complete his research on the fundamental theory, and this ‘theory of everything’ continues to be a source of conjecture in physics.
Awards and Accomplishments
He received the ‘Smith’s Prize’ in 1907 for his statistical approach based on the drifting of two background stars.
Throughout the 1920s, this accomplished astronomer received numerous awards, including the ‘Bruce Medal of the Pacific Astronomical Society’, the ‘Henry Draper Medal of the National Academy of Sciences’, the ‘Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society’, the ‘Prix Jules Janssen of the French Astronomical Society’, and the ‘Royal Medal of the Royal Society’.
In the 1930s, he was knighted. During the same decade, he was also awarded the ‘Order of Merit. Additionally, he was made a ‘Hon. Freeman of Kendal’.
Personal History and Legacies
On 22nd November 1944, this eminent scientist succumbed to cancer at the ‘Evelyn Nursing Home in Cambridge.
On November 27, his final funeral services were held at the ‘Cambridge Crematorium’ in Cambridgeshire, and his body was cremated. Later, the remains were interred in his mother’s grave at the ‘Ascension Parish Burial Ground.’
In 1946, his final written work, ‘Fundamental theory,’ was published posthumously.
Estimated Net Worth
Arthur is one of the wealthiest Astrophysicists and is included on the list of the most popular Astrophysicists. Arthur Eddington’s net worth is estimated to be around $1.5 million, based on our analysis of Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.