Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe

Framhli­ kßpu
Princeton University Press, 14. mar. 1999 - 500 sÝ­ur
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For over three millennia, most people could understand the universe only in terms of myth, religion, and philosophy. Between 1920 and 1970, cosmology transformed into a branch of physics. With this remarkably rapid change came a theory that would finally lend empirical support to many long-held beliefs about the origins and development of the entire universe: the theory of the big bang. In this book, Helge Kragh presents the development of scientific cosmology for the first time as a historical event, one that embroiled many famous scientists in a controversy over the very notion of an evolving universe with a beginning in time. In rich detail he examines how the big-bang theory drew inspiration from and eventually triumphed over rival views, mainly the steady-state theory and its concept of a stationary universe of infinite age.


In the 1920s, Alexander Friedmann and Georges Lemaţtre showed that Einstein's general relativity equations possessed solutions for a universe expanding in time. Kragh follows the story from here, showing how the big-bang theory evolved, from Edwin Hubble's observation that most galaxies are receding from us, to the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Sir Fred Hoyle proposed instead the steady-state theory, a model of dynamic equilibrium involving the continuous creation of matter throughout the universe. Although today it is generally accepted that the universe started some ten billion years ago in a big bang, many readers may not fully realize that this standard view owed much of its formation to the steady-state theory. By exploring the similarities and tensions between the theories, Kragh provides the reader with indispensable background for understanding much of today's commentary about our universe.

 

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Cosmology and controversy: the historical development of two theories of the universe

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Today we take it for granted that the universe began with a big bang. But this has not always been the case. Prior to its wide acceptance as the most probable origin of our universe, the big bang ... Read full review

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CHAPTER
22
CHAPTER THREE
80
CHAPTER FOUR
142
CHAPTER FIVE
202
CHAPTER
269
CHAPTER SEVEN
318
CHAPTER EIGHT
389
NOTES
403
BIBLIOGRAPHY
447
INDEX
487
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Helge Kragh is Professor of the History of Science at the University of Oslo. His works include a biography of P.A.M. Dirac.

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