In the Economist video Why does time pass? there is some file footage of Albert Einstein attending some event where a model of a large telescope is on display, and being described to Prof. Einstein.

Which telescopes model is being shown to Prof. Einstein in this file footage? Is it possible to tell what event this might be, or who some of the individuals might be (any famous Astronomers)?

enter image description here

enter image description here


2 Answers 2


I'm pretty certain it is the 200inch Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory. There is an image galley of the 200 inch telescope. According to Richard Preston's book First Light: The Search For The Edge Of The Universe, Einstein attended the completion of the telescope truss, yoke and horseshoe bearing at Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company in South Philadelphia (page 41) so it may have been this event that the footage is from.

Searching for "celluloid model of Hale telescope" in the Hagley Digital Archive will yield information such as

This celluloid mount was part of a 1/32 scale model of Hale Telescope that was constructed by Westinghouse Electric Corporation engineers to test design utility and points of stress.

and images such as these:

enter image description hereenter image description here

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ No that info is great. Amazing to see the old school method of Finite Element Analysis - build a scale model and put in between polarizers and see which parts turn bright colors... $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, the yoke and horseshoe are dead giveaways for the Palomar scope. Good stuff. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 5:26
  • $\begingroup$ That's a beautiful piece of celluloid. Now days, we'd use Lucite, if we ever bothered to make a model outside computer space. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 16:57

The event was in 1937; the telescope began operating in 1948. If this Getty photo is the same scene from a different angle, then those with Einstein in the lower frame are, from left to right, Nobel laureate physicist and Caltech president Robert Millikan, and Westinghouse engineers Guenther Froebel and Jesse Ormondroyd. In the upper frame, between Froebel (center, facing right) and Ormondroyd (right, seated) may be Westinghouse chairman A. W. Robertson.

  • $\begingroup$ Checking details (windows, clothing) it sure looks to me like a match. Excellent find! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 2:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .