Wallal Exhibition Showing Now At The GDC
Curved Space and Warped Time – Australia Tests Einstein 1922
The Wallal Exhibition
A group of scientists, historians and students in Western Australia created an exhibition on the Great Wallal Eclipse Expedition that took place in Western Australia less than four years after the First World War. This expedition was a heroic national and international effort that was supported and feted across the country. They measured the warping of space by observing stars during the eclipse of the sun. The expedition confirmed the accuracy of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, the theory that revolutionised our understanding of the universe, and the one which we use today every time we use a GPS satellite navigation system. The testing was needed because earlier tests of Einstein’s theory had given inconclusive results despite public claims to the contrary.
This year marks the centenary of the Great Wallal Expidition. Locally, as a discovery made in Western Australia, it is one for which all West Australian’s should be proud. Foundation Professor of Physics at UWA, Professor Alexander Ross played a major role along with scientists from USA, Canada, Britain and India. Today the Wallal Expedition has largely been forgotten, in spite of its immense world significance in proving the theory that underpins our understanding of gravity and the universe. The Wallal Exbibition on show at the GDC and Observatory has been created by a group of scientists, historians and students from UWA and members of the Gravity Discovery Centre and Observstory. The exhibition was funded from National Science Week 2015, Lotterywest and Healthway.
Curved Space and Warped Time – Australia tests Einstein 1922 is located in the cosmology Gallery at the Gravity Discovery Cnetre and Observatory. A video on a large screen brings the Wallal expedition to life, based on old footage from the Australian Film Archive as well as modern eclipse material and material on the implications of the discovery using modern imagery of the universe of curved space and warped time revealed by the Hubble Space Telescope.
The Australian International Gravitational Observatory, now known as OzGrav, The Zadko Optical Telescope and the Geoscience Australia Magnetic
Observatory are located on the same site as the Gravity Discovery Centre. Curved Space and Warped Time – Australia tests Einstein 1922 brings people on a journey of discovery from the first clear sight of curved space near the sun, to our modern understanding of the universe. through time, from the pre-eclipse excitement across Australia in 1922, to the wooden telescopes and donkey trains towing wagons out of the surf on 80 Mile Beach, to the world of today with GPS navigators and the internet.
The exhibition was designed by a team consisting of Sue Graham-Taylor, curator for the National Anzac Centre, Dr Ron Burman: Historical Research, David Blair: Co-ordinator, Damon Annison: Photographer and Graphics Designer, Patrick Obiri-Boateng: Video production
Here are a few interesting facts about the Wallal expedition:
• The location for the Wallal Expedition camp was selected for the presence of a Government well constructed in the late 1870s by Alexander Forrest. Forrest saw it as an important water source for when cattle were later driven south on the way to market. The Wallal eclipse expedition camp – established just north of the well – found the water ‘excellent’ and commented that the well was 16 feet deep and ‘it never fails’. Wallal means ‘abundant water’.
• The Indigenous people made a big contribution to the expedition. Fifty indigenous people met the boats when they landed on Eighty Mile Beach.
• The Royal Australian Navy played a major role in organising and running the expedition.
• The Australian Government arranged for the trans-Australia railway to carry equipment free of charge from Sydney to Perth for on-shipment to Broome and then to Wallal.
• Thirty five tonnes of telescopes and other equipment was brought to Wallal from all over the world, including Toronto and Lick Observatory (California).
• The expedition provided data that confirmed that Einstein was right, and was not improved upon for 50 years.
• The scientists were feted and newspapers across Australia were full of stories about the expedition.
• Aviation pioneers Kingsford Smith and Norman Brearley were involved in the expedition.
“Want to know more about other Wallal eclipse centenary celebrations?
The University of Western Australia & Scitech has a range of events and activities over a two-week period celebrating the centenary of the Wallal eclipse expedition. Click here to find out more for UWA activities and click here for Scitech activities.