DR. WHO David Tennant as Sir Arthur Eddington in the upcoming production EINSTEIN AND EDDINGTON.
For today's mathematicians, it is easy to remember that 3.14 is Einstein's birthday. Today we are used to overnight fame, and from this perspective it seems that Einstein's ideas were accepted quickly. It was years before Einstein and his papers became public knowledge. A century later we can review how long that took.
In the 5th year of the century Einstein's four major papers are published. He is still working in the patent office and has not received his PhD. Fortunately Max Planck is an editor and sees the value in Einstein's photoelectric effect. If not for Planck, Einstein's papers might not have been published for years.
After Einstein's publication, the response is a deafening silence. Not until the 9th year of the century does Einstein get an academic job. Not until the 11th year does SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN magazine make any mention of Einstein's work. In the 15th year Einstein finally completes his General Theory, but few people notice. The 14th to 18th years are occupied by a long and costly war.
In the 19th year of the century Arthur Eddington makes his famous eclipse expedition. Though a respected British scientist and Director of the Cambridge Observatory, Eddington at 36 is younger than Einstein. He would have been college age upon first reading Einstein's papers. Some jokingly claim that Eddington is one of only three people including Einstein who understood Relativity. As one of the younger generation, Eddington is open to testing new ideas.
On November 6 of the 19th year Eddington's results are announced at the Royal Society. Today Wendy Freedman and others suspect that Eddington "cooked the books" to support Einstein. The next morning the Times of London announces: "Revolution in Science--New Theory of the Universe--Newton's Ideas Overthrown." Three days later the New York Times picks up the story and Einstein's fame spreads like wildfire. (This is about the time a JDEM would begin returning data.)
Copernicus published his "Revolutionibus Oblure Coelestium" in 1543, but not until the late 17th century was the Sun-centred model taught in universities. Along the way Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake and Galileo sentenced to house arrest. As late as the 1660's Isaac Newton heard lectures on the Ptolemaic system in Cambridge. Before Einstein came a communications revolution more profound than today's internet, telephones and telegraphs transmitting at the speed of light. Even with this quantum leap in technology, Einstein's ideas took more than a decade to spread around the world.
The number 3.14159 may have still more significance. As the wondrous Kea has noted, the difference between $\pi$ and 3 is 4.507034 percent, exactly the proportion of baryonic matter in the Universe. This is a check on the shape of Space/Time. If the Universe were a shape other than a sphere, that proportion would be different. This may be part of something our century will discover.