The Principle Procedure was opened with a talk by Clifford Will, a Canadian mathematical physicist at the University of Florida, who in 1986 published the popular book "Was Einstein Right?" His centenary spoke with the title "Is Einstein Still Real?"
Ever so it seems. The last few decades have seen "a fantastic selection of experimental tests of general relativity, all in line with the predictions," Dr. Will. But the search continues: "There are still things we do not fully understand. And that will probably always be the case."
On Wednesday at the Princeton Institute for Exploration, where Einstein spent his twilight years, the eclipse's century is celebrated with an afternoon of talks with a new book by Graham Farmelo, "The Universe Speaks in Numbers."
Edward Witten, Nima Arkani-Hamed, Freeman Dyson and Karen Uhlenbeck, the recent Abel Prize Winner in Mathematics will, among other things, turn to dueling methods – experimental versus mathematical – to examine our own cosmic diorama.
Those in favor of experiments have been known to consider the hardcore mathematical approach as "mathematical masturbation", Dr. Farmelo said – "self-reliant without a clear payout to understand the real world." And the mathematical cosmologists have traditionally seen their contradictions as "ambulance chaser's," each pursuing its new experimental lead at the expense of overall physical ideas.
"Einstein was convinced that the royal road to the laws of physics was not looking at experimental data, but by developing the mathematical content of well-informed established theories," said Dr. Farmelo.