Lights All Askew in the Heavens

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the greatest headline ever written.

Fifteen years to the day before the birth of Carl Sagan, scientists announced their results from measuring starlight during a total solar eclipse.

The experiment proved that starlight was deflected by the sun’s gravity, observable proof of general relativity. It sent the world into an uproar. Baffled reporters at the New York Times received a special cable from London announcing the triumph of Einstein’s theories, but had no idea how to put the momentous occasion into words.

100 years ago today, after spending all night together, brainstorming, trying to wrap their heads about what this meant, they came up with this headline.

Every time I am confronted with it, I get a little emotional. The simple, awestruck, spellbound confusion of it. Our eternal love affair with the majesty of human ignorance.


On November 10, 1919, we watched the sun bend starlight for the first time. Happy 100th birthday to the lights going all askew.


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