Was Einstein Right? Putting General Relativity to the Test. Clifford Will. Basic Books. New York, 1986. 296 pp., illus. $18.95.
Einstein's theory of general relativity holds a unique position in science. Despite the controversy it has generated over the years, I've never heard it trivialized by the phrase "It's just a theory, isn't it?" Somehow, in this particular case, nearly everyone intuitively understands that a theory is the best thing in the world that science has to offer.
This book tells the story of the experimental aspects of relativity. As Will writes in his preface, "It is about an intensive twenty-year effort, beginning around 1960, to check the predictions of general relativity accurately, and to find new predictions to check." The main question posed by the book— Was Einstein Right?—is answered by looking at the experimental evidence amassed over the last 80 years.
Will begins by confronting the myth that...