Hannes Richter

Austrian Cross of Honor

Hannes Richter

Professor Charles Everitt. StanfordOn May 4, 2011, Professor Dr. Charles William Francis Everitt received the Austrian Cross of Honor for Achievements in the Field of Science and the Arts (1st class). Professor Everitt was born on March 8, 1934. As a long-standing university professor at Stanford University in California, his scientific work has focused mainly on gravity research.

He designed and directed the so-called “Gravity Probe B Relativity Gyroscope Experiment,” which served the purpose of experimentally verifying both the curved spacetime phenomenon in Einstein’s relativity theory and the Lense-Thirring effect, which had been derived from the Austrian scientists Josef Lense and Hans Thirring.

The Lense-Thirring effect is a relativistic correction to the precession of a gyroscope near a large rotating mass such as the Earth. It is a gravitomagnetic frame-dragging effect. For a long time, this effect had been considered too small to be scientifically measured and had thus been regarded to be merely academic. As time passed, the field of physics gained new technical and financial possibilities and embarked on the project of measuring the Lense-Thirring effect.

The satellite for the gravity Probe B experiment was launched on April 20, 2004. The evaluation of the data gained by Prof. Everitt clearly confirmed the Lense-Thirring effect. In sum, Prof. Everitt has paid an invaluable service to the field of science in general and to the field of physics in Austria in particular.