Einstein's cosmological constant "blunder."

Curtis Johnson

Sorry to have deleted your post to Mike Melia about Einstein's cosmological constant "blunder." You said that he inserted it because bought into Hubble's static universe.

Actually, he did it because at the time (late 1920s) nearly all astronomers believed that the universe was static. The red-shift data had not really began to be gathered and analyzed.

The major figure in the realization that red shifts increased with distance, and that therefore the universe is expanding was Hubble. In fact, the increase with distance is named the Hubble constant. And the Space Telescope, of course, was named after him. (There's a local real estate company with the name Hubble; sometimes I wonder how they verify their titles.)

It was when you called Hubble a Creationist that I realized you were confusing him with Fred Hoyle. Even here, though, there's an anachronism vis-a-vis Einstein, who died in 1953. The "steady-state universe" model (which he developed in the late '50s with Thomas Gold and Herman Bondi, who are probably just as happy to have only Hoyle associated with it now in the public mind) was actually an expanding universe of sorts, in the sense of having galaxies moving from each other. The cause was a posited creation of matter in amounts that were too small to be visible; the universe was infinitely old, and infinite in extent.

Although scientists weren't happy about this unverifiable assumption, it didn't seem any more implausible at the time than the Big Bang. Then came the discovery of microwave background radiation in just the right amount to match BB predictions.

It was only natural for poor Fred, having once had the feeling of having discovered the secret of the universe and the esteem of colleagues, to be reluctant to let go of his universe. In fact, the "Life from Space" stuff he's been working on is an attempt to sneak it back in. If he can show that life is overwhelmingly improbable, then the fact of life becomes an argument for an infinitely old universe.

Far from being a Creationist, when the Creationists called him as a witness in the Louisiana Creationist trial, the choice blew up in their face--- he testified against them. And the "steady-state universe," being infinitely old, could never have been created by any entity.

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