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The Origin of Gravitational Lensing: A Postscript to Einstein's 1936 Science Paper

Science  10 Jan 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5297, pp. 184-186
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5297.184

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Abstract

Gravitational lensing, now taken as an important astrophysical consequence of the general theory of relativity, was found even before this theory was formulated but was discarded as a speculative idea without any chance of empirical confirmation. Reconstruction of some of Einstein's research notes dating back to 1912 reveals that he explored the possibility of gravitational lensing 3 years before completing his general theory of relativity. On the basis of preliminary insights into this theory, Einstein had already derived the basic features of the lensing effect. When he finally published the very same results 24 years later, it was only in response to prodding by an amateur scientist.

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