Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe / Edition 1

Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe / Edition 1

by Helge Kragh
     
 

ISBN-10: 069100546X

ISBN-13: 9780691005461

Pub. Date: 02/22/1999

Publisher: Princeton University Press

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:

Overview

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 Lemaître 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691005461
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
02/22/1999
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
488
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.18(h) x 1.07(d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Ch. 1Background: From Einstein to Hubble3
Ch. 2Lemaitre's Fireworks Universe22
Ch. 3Gamow's Big Bang80
Ch. 4The Steady-State Alternative142
Ch. 5Creation and Controversy202
Ch. 6The Universe Observed269
Ch. 7From Controversy to Marginalization318
Ch. 8Epilogue: Dynamics of a Controversy389
Appendix IA Cosmological Chronology, 1917-1971397
Appendix IITechnical Glossary400
Notes403
Bibliography447
Index487

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