Arthur Stanley Eddington

Plumian Professor of Astronomy, Cambridge

The Nature of the Physical World

In his series of lectures, Eddington explains the central ideas of modern physics and the philosophical and religious implications. He details two parallel worlds: the one of concrete reality and the one of physics. Modern advances have created a chasm between the two, and there are no valid counterparts in the everyday world for the atoms or electrons of the scientific world. Eddington argues that physics is concerned with the world of symbols, not building bridges to the everyday world. 


Arthur Stanley Eddington was born on 28 December 1882 in Kendal, England. The father of theoretical astrophysics, his work on stellar dynamics and his exposition of Einstein’s relativity theories were considered the finest in any language. Educated at Owens College, Manchester and Trinity College, Cambridge, he was elected Plumian Professor of Astronomy (succeeding George Darwin) in 1913. He became Director of the university’s observatory the following year. Eddington organised expeditions to Brazil and West Africa to overserve the total solar eclipse of 19 May 1919. 

Elected to the Royal Society in 1914, he was awarded a Royal Medal in 1928, knighted in 1930, and appointed to the Order of Merit in 1938. Eddington also served as President of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1921 and the Mathematical Association in 1930. Important works include Stellar Movements and the Structure of the Universe (1914), The Mathematical Theory of Relativity (1923), Stars and Atoms (1926), Science and the Unseen World (1929), The Expanding Universe: Astronomy’s ‘Great Debate’, 1900–1931 (1930), and Philosophy of Physical Science (1939).

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