Herbert Dingle (2 August 1890–4 September 1978), an English physicist and natural philosopher, who served as president of the Royal Astronomical Society from 1951 to 1953, is best known for his opposition to Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity and the protracted controversy that this provoked.
Dingle was born in London, but spent his early years in Plymouth, where he was taken following the death of his father, and where he attended Plymouth Science, Art and Technical Schools. Due to lack of money, he left school at the age of 14 and found employment as a clerk, a job which he held for 11 years. At age 25 he won a scholarship to the Imperial College, London, from which he graduated in 1918. In that same year, Dingle married Alice Westacott who later gave birth to a son. As a Quaker, Dingle was exempt from military service during World War I. He took a position as a Demonstrator in the Physics Department, and devoted himself to the study of spectroscopy (following his mentor Alfred Fowler), especially its applications in astronomy. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1922.
Dingle was a member of the British government eclipse expeditions of 1927 (Colwyn Bay) and 1932 (Montreal), both of which failed to make any observations due to overcast skies. He spent most of 1932 at the California Institute of Technology as a Rockefeller Foundation Scholar. There he met the theoretical cosmologist R. C. Tolman, and studied relativistic cosmology.
Dingle became a professor of Natural Philosophy at Imperial College in 1938, and was a professor of History and Philosophy of Science at University College London from 1946 until his retirement in 1955. Thereafter he held the customary title of Professor Emeritus from that institution. He was one of the founders of the British Society for the History of Science, and served as President from 1955 to 1957. He founded what later became the British Society for the Philosophy of Science as well as its journal, the British Journal for The Philosophy of Science.
Dingle was the author of "Modern Astrophysics" (1924) and "Practical Applications of Spectrum Analysis" (1950). He also wrote the essay "Relativity for All" (1922) and the monograph The Special Theory of Relativity (1940). A collection of Dingle's lectures on the history and philosophy of science was published in 1954. He also took an interest in English literature, and published Science and Literary Criticism in 1949, and The Mind of Emily Brontë in 1974.
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