**The Gravitational Constant 1890-1915**

From the Local to the Universal

From the Local to the Universal

When Albert Einstein formulated his new theory of gravity in 1915, one of his core objectives was to recover the successes of Newton’s theory of gravity. After all, Newton’s theory had been tremendously successful, so successful indeed that to this day working with it is precise enough for almost all Earth-bound applications and most applications in the solar system.

Indeed, much of the empirical content of Einstein’s gravitational field equations was obtained by its Newtonian limit, and especially by incorporating what is today called Newton’s gravitational constant

Little did Einstein know that 'Newton’s’ constant

The task of the St Andrews - Bonn Gravitational Constant Network is to find out how this happened. Researchers from the Universities of St Andrews and Bonn will combine their expertise in transnational history, philosophy, mathematics and physics to do pioneering work in the archives of the most relevant thinkers of this development and settle the question of how

Indeed, much of the empirical content of Einstein’s gravitational field equations was obtained by its Newtonian limit, and especially by incorporating what is today called Newton’s gravitational constant

*G*.Little did Einstein know that 'Newton’s’ constant

*G*had only been introduced into physics in 1873, 200 years after Newton first formulated the law. Previously the law had been written in a locally situated, comparative, form. Mysteriously, by the time Einstein began looking for a new theory of gravity in 1907, using*G*in Newton’s law had become utterly standard, and memory was fading that things were ever done differently, even though the introduction of*G*had been highly controversial barely 30 years earlier.The task of the St Andrews - Bonn Gravitational Constant Network is to find out how this happened. Researchers from the Universities of St Andrews and Bonn will combine their expertise in transnational history, philosophy, mathematics and physics to do pioneering work in the archives of the most relevant thinkers of this development and settle the question of how

*G*was transformed from a controversial innovation to an unquestioned fundamental constant of nature.We would like to thank the University of St Andrews and the University of Bonn for their generous support via the Collaborative Research Grants Programme.