Herbert Dingle

Herbert Dingle books and biography


Herbert Dingle


Herbert Dingle (1890 – 1978) was an English astronomer and president of the Royal Astronomical Society. He is best-known for his claimed disproof of the theory of special relativity.

Born in 1890, Dingle was educated at Plymouth Science, Art and Technical Schools and Imperial College, London. He was a member of the British government eclipse expeditions of 1927 and 1932; and became Professor of Natural Philosophy, Imperial College in 1938, Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, University College London in 1946–1955 and President of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1951–1953. Appointed Professor Emeritus of History and Philosophy of Science in 1955, he died in 1978.

Originally a supporter of Einstein's work on the theory of relativity and an author of the textbook Relativity for All (1922), Dingle came to doubt its foundations after reading an account of the so-called twin paradox. According to this, a clock that moves relative to another will appear to run more slowly as judged by the stationary clock and inversely. Dingle claimed that Einstein's results were inconsistent with those worked out using a "commonsense" method. However, other experts — notably the astrophysicist Sir William H. McCrea — disagreed. The argument between Dingle and McCrea in Nature of 1962 is well-known and Dingle's errors are well understood [1].

Direct evidence in favour of special relativity came in 1971, when two scientists from the US Naval Observatory took two high-precision atomic clocks on flights around the world in different directions. Einstein's theory correctly predicted a difference in elapsed time as measured by each clock.

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