Einstein's "Biggest Blunder"

For much of the modern era, scientists followed Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and Isaac Newton in believing the cosmos to be eternal and unchanging. But in 1917, when Albert Einstein applied his theory of relativity to space-time as a whole, his equations implied that the universe could not be static; it must be either expanding or contracting. This struck Einstein as grotesque, so he added to his theory a fiddle factor called the "cosmological constant" that eliminated the implication and held the universe still.

It was an ordained priest who took relativity to its logical conclusion. In 1927, Georges Lemaître of the University of Louvain in Belgium worked out an expanding model of the universe. Reasoning backward, he proposed that at some definite point in the past it must have originated from a primeval atom of infinitely concentrated energy. Two years later, Lemaître's model was confirmed by the American astronomer Edwin Hubble, who had observed that the galaxies everywhere around us were receding. Both theory and empirical evidence pointed to the same verdict: The universe had an abrupt beginning in time.


Einstein overcame his metaphysical scruples about the big bang not long before his death in 1955, referring to his earlier attempt to dodge it by an ad hoc theoretical device as "the greatest blunder of my career."


The story of how Einstein's belief in a static Universe prompted him to introduce a fudge-factor in his Theory of Relativity, the Cosmological Constant.

Folksonomies: empiricism theory dogma blinders

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 Big-Bang Theology
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Holt, Jim (Feb. 12, 1998), Big-Bang Theology, slate.com, Retrieved on 2013-03-15
  • Source Material [www.slate.com]
  • Folksonomies: history science theology


    27 MAR 2013

     Einstein's Biggest Blunder

    Einstein's Cosmological Constant > Similarity > Einstein's "Biggest Blunder"
    Two tellings of the story of the cosmological constant.
    Folksonomies: empiricism belief
    Folksonomies: empiricism belief