Who is Arthur Eddington: Biography

Sir Arthur Eddington was an eminent English astronomer, physicist and mathematician. He is noted for his grounbreaking research work in astrophysics. Being the first person to investigate the motion, internal structure and evolution of stars, Eddington is widely considered to be one of the greatest astronomers of all time.

Early Life and Education:

Born on December 28, 1882 in Kendal, Cumbria, Arthur Eddington’s father was the head of a local school. Eddington was a bright student and he won an entrance scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge. After graduating three years later, he accepted a teaching position, and after a few months, Eddington became the Chief Assistant at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

Contributions and Achievements:

Eddington visited Malta in 1909 to find out the longitude of the geodetic station of the place. He also visited Brazil as the head of the eclipse expedition. He became the Plumian Professor of Astronomy in Cambridge in 1913, where he taught for about 31 years.
He published his first book, “Stellar Movements and the structure of the Universe”, in 1914. It laid the groundwork for scientific exposition. “The Internal Construction of the Stars”, another work by Eddington was published in 1926, which still remains one of the best-selling books about astronomy. His “Mathematical Theory of Relativity” was the earliest work in English language that explained the mathematical details of Einstein’s theory of gravitation.
Eddington discovered in 1926 that the inward gravitational pressure of a star must maintain the outward radiation and gas pressure to remain in equilibrium. He also demonstrated that there was an upper limit on the mass of a star. Eddington discovered mass-luminosity relationship, which implies that the the size of a star is directly proportional to its luminosity, making the mass of a star to be decided upon its intrinsic brightness.
In “Fundamental Theory”, which was published after his death, Eddington introduced his calculations of many of the constant of nature, particularly the recession velocity constant of the external galaxies, the ratio of the gravitational force to the electrical force between a proton and an electron, and the number of particles in the universe.

Later Life and Death:

Arthur Eddington became a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1906, and eight years later, an elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1914. He was knighted in 1938.
Eddington died in Cambridge, England on November 22, 1944 after an unsuccessful surgical operation. Eddington Memorial Scholarship and Eddington Medal were established after his death, in his honor.


Also popularly known as ‘Avicenna’, Ibn Sina was indeed a true polymath with his contributions ranging from medicine, psychology and pharmacology to geology, physics, astronomy, chemistry and philosophy. He was also a poet and an Islamic scholar and theologian. His most important contribution to medical science was his famous book al-Qanun, known as the “Canon” in the West. This book is an immense encyclopedia of medicine including over a million words and like most Arabic books is richly divided and subdivided. It comprises of the entire medical knowledge available from ancient and Muslim sources.

Early Life:

This great scientist was born in around 980 A.D in the village of Afshana, near Bukhara which is also his mother’s hometown. His father, Abdullah an advocate of the Ismaili sect, was from Balkh which is now a part of Afghanistan. Ibn Sina received his early eduction in his home town and by the age of ten he became a Quran Hafiz. He had exceptional intellectual skills which enabled him to overtake his teachers at the age of fourteen. During the next few years he devoted himself to Muslim Jurisprudence, Philosophy and Natural Science and studied Logic, Euclid, and the Almeagest.
Ibn Sina was an extremely religious man. When he was still young, Ibn Sina was highly baffled by the work of Aristotle on Metaphysics so much so that he used to leave all the work and pray to God to guide him. Finally after reading a manual by a famous philosopher al-Farabi, he found the solutions to his difficulties.

Contributions and Achievements:

At the age of sixteen he dedicated all his efforts to learn medicine and by the time he was eighteen gained the status of a reputed physician. During this time he was also lucky in curing Nooh Ibn Mansoor, the King of Bukhhara, of an illness in which all the renowned physicians had given up hope. On this great effort, the King wished to reward him, but the young physician only acquired consent to use his exclusively stocked library of the Samanids.
On his father’s death, when Ibn Sina was twenty-two years old, he left Bukhara and moved to Jurjan near Caspian Sea where he lectured on logic and astronomy. Here he also met his famous contemporary Abu Raihan al-Biruni. Later he travelled to Rai and then to Hamadan, where he wrote his famous book Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb. Here he also cured Shams al-Daulah, the King of Hamadan, for severe colic.
From Hamadan, he moved to Isfahn, where he finished many of his epic writings. Nevertheless, he continued to travel and the too much mental exertion as well as political chaos spoilt his health. The last ten or twelve years of his life, he spent in the service of Abu Ja’far ‘Ala Addaula, whom he accompanied as physician and general literary and scientific consultant. He died during June 1037 A.D and was buried in Hamedan, Iran.
Besides his monumental writings, Ibn Sina also contributed to mathematics, physics, music and other fields. He explained the concept and application of the “casting out of nines”. He made several astronomical observations, and devised a means similar to the venire, to enhance the accuracy of instrumental readings. In physics, his contribution comprised the study of different forms of energy, heat, light and mechanical, and such concepts as force, vacuum and infinity.