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Space Science

Einstein's Lost Model of the Universe Discovered 'Hiding In Plain Sight' 118

Posted by timothy
from the fluxity-should-be-a-word dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Dick Ahlstrom reports that Irish researchers have discovered a previously unknown model of the universe written in 1931 by physicist Albert Einstein that had been misfiled and effectively "lost" until its discovery last August while researchers been searching through a collection of Einstein's papers put online by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "I was looking through drafts, but then slowly realised it was a draft of something very different," says Dr O'Raifeartaigh. "I nearly fell off my chair. It was hidden in perfect plain sight. This particular manuscript was misfiled as a draft of something else." Read more, below.
"In his paper, radically different from his previously known models of the universe, Einstein speculated the expanding universe could remain unchanged and in a " steady state" because new matter was being continuously created from space. "It is what Einstein is attempting to do that would surprise most historians, because nobody had known this idea. It was later proposed by Fred Hoyle in 1948 and became controversial in the 1950s, the steady state model of the cosmos," says O'Raifeartaigh. Hoyle argued that space could be expanding eternally and keeping a roughly constant density. It could do this by continually adding new matter, with elementary particles spontaneously popping up from space. Particles would then coalesce to form galaxies and stars, and these would appear at just the right rate to take up the extra room created by the expansion of space. Hoyle's Universe was always infinite, so its size did not change as it expanded. It was in a 'steady state'. "This finding confirms that Hoyle was not a crank," says Simon Mitton. "If only Hoyle had known, he would certainly have used it to punch his opponents." Although Hoyle's model was eventually ruled out by astronomical observations, it was at least mathematically consistent, tweaking the equations of Einstein's general theory of relativity to provide a possible mechanism for the spontaneous generation of matter. Einstein's paper attracted no attention because Einstein abandoned it after he spotted a mistake and then didn't publish it but the fact that Einstein experimented with the steady-state concept demonstrates Einstein's continued resistance to the idea of a Big Bang, which he at first found "abominable", even though other theoreticians had shown it to be a natural consequence of his general theory of relativity."
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Einstein's Lost Model of the Universe Discovered 'Hiding In Plain Sight'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 08, 2014 @09:43AM (#46434099)

    Einstein was not particularly good at embracing all of the consequences of his own work. He was firmly opposed to quantum theory, "Gott würfelt nicht!" (God does not throw dice) even though his Nobel prize for physics was actually for quantum theoretic work (figuring out the frequency of light quants I think) rather than his theories of relativity.

    • by bhagwad (1426855)

      Hoist by his own petard :p

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        He also abhorred the violent creation of the Israeli nation, and was actively anti-Zionist.

        Yet his work has been captured by the Hebrew University, and is used to glorify a nation who's creation he saw as tragic, and who's establishment he repudiated.

        http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/01/einstein-on-palestine-and-zionism/ [dissidentvoice.org]
         

        • I doubt if Einstein would have called himself anti-zionist because the meaning of zionism was a bit wider in those days. It's just that his strain of zionism has very little relation to Israel as we know it because he was not a nationalist and certainly not in favor of an ethnocracy.
          But I think you could say he was a cultural zionist.

          • Agreed. I've never heard that he was Anti-Israel. Source, please? He was offered the first presidency of Israel, but declined because he felt he would not make a good politician. Nothing about being opposed to Israel.
            • by tinkerton (199273)

              Nothing about being opposed to Israel.

              Maybe you should read Jerome's book then.
              http://www.amazon.com/Einstein... [amazon.com]

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by gzuckier (1155781)

                Maybe you should read another book, any of many:

                "I am against nationalism but in favor of Zionism. The reason has become clear to me today. When a man has both arms and he is always saying I have a right arm, then he is a chauvinist. However, when the right arm is missing, then he must do something to make up for the missing limb. Therefore, I am, as a human being, an opponent of nationalism. But as a Jew I am from today a supporter of the Jewish Zionist efforts."

                http://books.google.com/books?... [google.com]

                http://www [eltwhed.com]

                • by tinkerton (199273)

                  one of many indeed. I'm sure that quote from around 1920 has been repeated endlessly. Einstein's support for Israel is the default assumption. That's what everyone takes as a given. And it's heavily biased. The Jerome book has other quotes as well, and gives a better picture of how his positions and opinions evolved over time.

        • by gzuckier (1155781)

          He also abhorred the violent creation of the Israeli nation, and was actively anti-Zionist.

          Yet his work has been captured by the Hebrew University, and is used to glorify a nation who's creation he saw as tragic, and who's establishment he repudiated.

          http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/01/einstein-on-palestine-and-zionism/ [dissidentvoice.org]

          Yet he was offered the Presidency of Israel in 1952, and though he turned them down, he posed it as a matter of his own abilities and interests, rather than an "abhorrence of the violent creation of the Israeli nation" or "active anti-Zionism". He may have abhorred the violence, as many Jews and non-Jews are without pinning the entire abhorrence onto Israel, but apparently not enough to make a public statement; perhaps the phrase you are looking for is "was saddened by the violent creation of the Israeli na

    • by jovius (974690) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @10:30AM (#46434215)

      Depends on dice. The universal constants are not randomly changing at least, so the outcome is based on certain rules.

      • ugh. universal constants dependent on beta. what could go wrong?

      • The universal constants are not randomly changing

        or they all change uniformly, giving the impression, in our referential, that nothing changes.

    • From Wikipedia :

      In cosmology, the Steady State theory is a now-obsolete theory and model alternative to the Big Bang theory of the universe's origin (the standard cosmological model).

      Einstein probably knew it had flaws. The "steady state" model was later proposed ( 1960's) by Fred Hoyle, Jayant Narlikar and others .

    • by Mashdar (876825) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @12:08PM (#46434531)

      "Stop trying to tell God what to do." -Bohr

    • Explaining the Photoelectric effect using the particulate nature of light.

    • He was firmly opposed to quantum theory

      He was firmly opposed to the non-deterministic interpretation of QM, in the sense that he believed a really fundamental theory should be deterministic. He didn't doubt the predictive power of the theory. I think it's worthwile to make that distinction.

    • No, it was for his explanation of photoelectric effect.
  • by rossdee (243626) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @10:10AM (#46434155)

    Even a 1 to a million scale model of the universe would be pretty big...

  • Panspermia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mdsolar (1045926) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @10:10AM (#46434157) Homepage Journal
    Another Hoyle cause, panspermia, which urges that the origin of life is so unlikely that a larger event space is needed, so life spreads through the galaxy as microbes once started somewhere, is getting somewhat of a second look. The idea that life may be hoping between planets in the solar system, hitchhiking on meteorites, is gaining adherents. While still a long way from a microbe populated interstellar cloud, or the solution to the statistical problem Hoyle was addressing, this is another echo of the importance of his thinking. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]
  • could a really smart ant model the entire earth?

    • by mdsolar (1045926)
      Consider a spherical dirtball.
    • by gtall (79522)

      Sure, Atom Ant would have no problem doing it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      could a really smart ant model the entire earth?

      Without extensions, no. With certain extensions, ANT may become turing complete, then yes.

    • If ants had human intelligence, I don't think coming up with the "spherical ball in space" model of Earth would be that much harder than it was for humans... both of our scales are "ant-like" compared to the size of our planet. The only real challenge I would anticipate is that ants have much less sophisticated vision, and being able to directly witness astronomical bodies was what really allowed us to begin understanding the solar system and our part in it.
  • by earls (1367951) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @10:43AM (#46434249)

    "a natural consequence of his general theory of relativity"

    Is this to say the general theory of relativity produces a Big Bang? As in, because GR is true, BB is? What's the short explanation for that?

    • Wiki [wikipedia.org]: "Theoretical calculations showed that a static universe was impossible under general relativity". So I'm not so sure about that remark either.

      Later on that same wiki page: "Problems with the steady-state theory began to emerge in the late 1960s, when observations apparently supported the idea that the universe was in fact changing: quasars and radio galaxies were found only at large distances (therefore could have existed only in the distant past), not in closer galaxies. Whereas the Big Bang theor
      • Replying to self: Okay, didn't read too well on just waking up.

        "Theoretical calculations showed that a static universe was im [wikipedia.org] possible under general relativity" ...emphasis added.
  • No beginning (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mdsolar (1045926) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @10:48AM (#46434273) Homepage Journal
    One of the really attractive things about a Steady State Universe is that it does not require a beginning. It can be infinite in both space and time. This leaves time for the nearly impossible to occur without resort to special circumstances. It is fine for a monkey to hand us the works of Shakespeare now, if there has been infinite time already for him and his friends to bang on typewriters, but if they've only had 14 billion years so far, we might have to suppose they at least read the Cliff Notes. Being able to avoid those special circumstances means that the origin of life is to be expected as a mere accident. However, there is a problem with this solution to the very complex existing in less than infinite time: the monkey should be handing us a large number of copies of the the works of Shakespeare, not just one. So, the Fermi Paradox would seem to indicate that the Steady State Universe is not occurring, independent of all the observational evidence confirming the big bang. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org]
    • by istartedi (132515)

      However, there is a problem with this solution to the very complex existing in less than infinite time: the monkey should be handing us a large number of copies of the the works of Shakespeare, not just one

      That presupposes something about how many copies the monkeys are apt to produce. I could sign on to them handing us zero or infinity copies under an infinite time scenario, whereas any "large number" would be arbitrary. The "infinite copies" outcome is not a problem because the mean time between deliv

    • 14 billion years is basically infinity, at least to our puny-yet-rather-clever brains.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Conformal Cyclic Cosmology doesn't require a beginning either, and it can be experimentally tested by finding specific patterns in the cosmic microwave background. So it's not exactly a pie in the sky argument like String/M/Brane theories are.

    • by cwsumner (1303261)

      ... It is fine for a monkey to hand us the works of Shakespeare now, if there has been infinite time already for him and his friends to bang on typewriters, but if they've only had 14 billion years so far, we might have to suppose they at least read the Cliff Notes. ...

      It would not actually be Shakespeare's works. The phenominon is called "Noise Aliasing". Look it up...

  • by hey! (33014) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @11:24AM (#46434363) Homepage Journal

    Both creative people and cranks have lots of wild ideas. The difference is that a crank reflexively defends his ideas with irrational vehemence. A creative person usually discard his ideas, because he knows there's always more where that comes from.

    • Yes. This is an important distinction. "They also laughed at Bozo the Clown." [c2.com]

      Hoyle wasn't purely a crank, of course. He was a very good scientist, who had made major contributions to his field, but who just couldn't accept new ideas past a certain point, and thereby became a crank. This phenomenon isn't universal by any means, but it's sadly common.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Ah, the old joke about the physicist approaching the dean for accelerator funding. "Why can't you be like the mathematicians? We provide them with pencils, paper, and a wastebasket, and they are busy for years! Or the philosophers. They don't even need a wastebasket."

    • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @06:18PM (#46436473)

      Both creative people and cranks have lots of wild ideas. The difference is that a crank reflexively defends his ideas with irrational vehemence.

      I've known cranks who were just obsessed with one thing and could never see beyond it, but I've also known many cranks who were very creative. I don't think the sets are as mutually exclusive as you claim.

      A creative person usually discard his ideas, because he knows there's always more where that comes from.

      I think this has more to do with ego than whether someone is creative or not. People hold fast to their ideas for all sorts of irrational reasons -- career, other people's praise of them, general acceptance within a peer group, politics, etc. Being a crank is more about personality type, in my view, than whether or not someone is "creative." The most effective cranks I have known are generally quite creative (and adaptive), enough so that it sometimes takes a long time for other people to realize they are simply wackos -- and they even attract followers to their irrational cause. (The shared characteristic in the crank and his audience in this case being a lack of specific knowledge or perspective to recognize how ludicrous the claims are.)

  • by iris-n (1276146) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @11:27AM (#46434385)

    This kind of article bothers me immensely. It treats Einstein as the God of Science, and uses the fact the he worked on something as evidence that this idea is no crackpottery. Well, guess what, Einstein also shat, farted, pissed, had bad ideas, and even commited mathematical mistakes.

    And one should never evaluate a scientific idea based on who's working on it. The Steady-State model of the universe is not a crackpot idea, simply because it is consistent with the laws of GR and (superficially) consistent with observational evidence. Philosophically, thought, it does seem quite silly, and I myself would never have regarded it as more than a mathematical curiosity, had it not been already falsified when I was born.

    A more modern example would be 't Hooft's work on superdeterminisc models for quantum theory. The guy is obviously a genius, but this idea is pure insanity, and it saddens me to see people taking it seriously just because a Nobel prize is working on it.

    • Philosophically, thought, it does seem quite silly, and I myself would never have regarded it as more than a mathematical curiosity, had it not been already falsified when I was born.

      That's really easy to say in hindsight, when we have the benefit of being able to calculate the scale of the near universe and measure the velocities of stars. Sounds like you would've intuitively figured out gravitation if you lived before Newton, too.

      The solid state model was really, really entrenched in Einstein's time. The Big Bang was mocked by Einstein and many others on the grounds of being too religious, appealing to the idea of a single moment of creation. Prior thinkers seem very naive from our

    • Philosophically, thought, it does seem quite silly, and I myself would never have regarded it as more than a mathematical curiosity,

      Why? We currently accept a model where the universe spontaneously came into existence at one time with any explanation (at least none that we know of now). The steady state hypothesis postulates a continuous universe with spontaneous creation of stuff at a regular rate to remain a stable state. Exactly why is the latter more "philosophically" more problematic than the former? Both postulate events of creation out of nothingness.

    • by mattr (78516)

      He has had successes where others could not supply the necessary creativity, so I think you owe him an apology. IANAP but assume you find superdeterminism insane because it would need to account for preselecting the myriad of fluctuations that would affect a RNG, and not due to religious reaction to the loss of destiny in which the
      Universe is set in steel.
      It seems to this non-physicist that if the Universe is a simulation (another insane idea) it would be possible to choose solely the desiref outcome and tr

      • by iris-n (1276146)

        I don't owe him an apology. I am a physicist, and my field of expertise is foundations of quantum mechanics. I did not say that this idea is insane as a knee-jerk reaction. I have read his paper, and I've been to a presentation by the men himself.

        I find superdeterminism isane because it is too strong a hyphotesis: it can explain any experimental result. It is, therefore, incompatible with the very idea of doing science. Let me give you an example. Suppose that you want to measure some property of a particle

  • If you are going to add a qualifier to Albert Einstein, please at least capitalize it, as in Physicist Albert Einstein like Lord Vishnu or something.
  • Hoyle was right (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Livius (318358) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @02:08PM (#46435179)

    Physicists actually do believe in version of the Steady State theory, except instead of "new matter is continuously created as the universe expands", new space and new dark energy are continuously created. There's no contradiction with the Inflationary Big Bang theory at all.

  • this is a game, and he knew it. is not the constant expansion of a platform on which to produce the fundamental requirement of all simulation? when Einstein saw the probabilistic world, he regressed into denial. when he came to grips with the implications, he understood that life is merely the greatest RPG ever created... simply because there was no goal.
    • If you assume reality is a simulation, which is not altogether ridiculous, it makes you wonder about life after death. Your consciousness, your "soul" is just ones and zeros and twos (in my head the simulating computer uses ternary logic), so why can't something happen to it after your simulated meat body dies? Maybe you wake up in the "real world." Maybe nothing happens. Maybe heaven and hell are parts of the program.

  • If a black hole forms in one part of the universe and another evaporates in another you may get an apparent constant density. There are likely colder regions of the universe further than we can see where black holes are evaporating.
  • H as in Hydrogen.
  • And not to forget Hoyle, as well. My bank account would *certainly* have benefitted from the principle of something from nothing ;-)

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