Karalundi College students recreate historic scientific discovery with the help of UWA physicists

Lachlan AllenMidwest Times
Karalundi College students Hadley and Sinnard compare the two methods of defining a straight line in curved space.
Camera IconKaralundi College students Hadley and Sinnard compare the two methods of defining a straight line in curved space. Credit: Supplied

With the help of physicists from The University of Western Australia, students from Karalundi College, near Meekatharra, have recreated a famous discovery at a remote settlement a century ago that confirmed Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

The students were part of a project to raise awareness of the September 1922 experiment when a team of 30 scientists with 35 tons of telescopes landed at Wallal, 300km south of Broome, to record a total solar eclipse.

UWA Emeritus Professor David Blair said the UWA team re-enacted the 1922 eclipse with the students at Karalundi, 60km north of Meekatharra, to help generate excitement in science and to show how Einstein had revolutionised our understanding of the universe.

“The students learnt about Einstein’s Theory and how it changed our understanding of space, time and gravity through activities and also learnt the science of climate change and renewable energy,” Professor Blair said.

“Einstein-First teaches students about photons and black holes and other exciting modern physics, through fun activities that boost their attitudes towards science.”

Professor Blair said other schools and budding scientists could get involved in the Wallal Centenary and do physics experiments in their own classrooms or even at home.

“That 1922 Wallal expedition was an astounding success,” Professor Blair said.

“It proved the sun curves the space around it, exactly as Einstein had predicted and from then on scientists knew that space was elastic, bendy and stretchy.”

Astronomers, filmmakers, aviators, physicists and their spouses were helped by 40 Nyungumarta people, the local traditional owners, whose role in the experiment was not well recognised.

Physicists and educators from UWA are this year celebrating the centenary of the expedition and hoping to meet descendants of the Nyungumarta people.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails