Einstein with Edwin Hubble, in 1931, at the Mount Wilson Observatory in California, looking through the lens of the 100-inch telescope through which Hubble discovered the expansion of the universe in 1929. Courtesy of the Archives, Calif Inst of Technology.

In 1917, just after Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity was issued—but quiet two years earlier he would turn out to be a worldwide personality as we know— Albert Einstein elected to tackle not only the origin but the whole universe. For anybody else, this might appear a remarkably ambitious and difficult task, but this was THE ALBERT EINSTEIN. Albert Einstein initiated his study of understanding the whole universe by relating his field equations of gravitation to what he considered to be the whole universe. The field equations extended Newton’s theory of gravity to realms where speeds approach that of light and masses are incredibly very huge. One important point to be noted here is, his math was well improved than he desired to trust. In other words his equations expressed that the universe could not stay fixed: it had to either expand or contract under all circumstances. Einstein elected to ignore what his math was telling him.


This story of Albert Einstein’s key to this problem is the maligned “cosmological constant” (alsocalled lambda), which is well identified in the entire history of science. But this story has a not the same ending than everybody assumed: Albert Einstein late in life reverted to considering his condemned lambda. And his conversion predicted lambda’s use in an unpredicted new situation, with huge significance to a key conundrum in modern physics and cosmology i.e. dark energy.

The Irish physicist Cormac O’Raifeartaigh was checking papers at the Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in late 2013 when he discovered a handwritten document by Einstein that researchers had never considered wisely before. The discovered paper, named “Zum kosmologischen Problem” (“About the Cosmological Problem”), had been mistakenly placed as a draft of extra paper, which was published by Albert Einstein in 1931 in the records of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. This paper was actually his determined effort to resurrect the cosmological constant which he had vowed not ever to use for a second time.

In a paper just filed on the electronic physics source ArXiv, O’Raifeartaigh and coworkers display that in the initial 1930s (the supposed date is 1931, but this is unclear), Albert Einstein was still trying to return to his analysis of 1917 of a universe with a cosmological constant. Albert Einstein composed (the authors’ transformation from the German): “This difficulty [the inconsistency of the laws of gravity with a finite mean density of matter] also arises in the general theory of relativity. However, I have shown that this can be overcome through the introduction of the so-called “λ–term” to the field equations… I showed that these equations can be satisfied by a spherical space of constant radius over time, in which matter has a density ρ that is constant over space and time.” But Albert Einstein was now attentive of Hubble’s discovery of the expansion of the universe: “On the other hand, Hubbel’s [sic*] exceedingly important investigations have shown that the extragalactic nebulae have the following two properties 1) Within the bounds of observational accuracy they are uniformly distributed in space 2) They possess a Doppler effect proportional to their distance”

And so Albert Einstein suggested a review of his model, still with a cosmological constant, but at that time the constant was liable for the conception of new matter as the universe expanded (that’s because Albert Einstein assumed that in an expanding universe, the whole concentration of matter had to still stay constant): “In what follows, I would like to draw attention to a solution to equation (1) that can account for Hubbel’s facts, and in which the density is constant over time.” And: “If one considers a physically bounded volume, particles of matter will be continually leaving it. For the density to remain constant, new particles of matter must be continually formed in the volume from space.” Albert Einstein attains this property by the use of his old cosmological constant, λ (lambda): “The conservation law is preserved in that by setting the λ-term, space itself is not empty of energy; as is well-known its validity is guaranteed by equations (1).”  So Albert Einstein hang onto using his rejected lambda, even though he invented it for a non-expanding universe. If the universe expands as presented by Hubble, Albert Einstein appears to be saying, then I still want my lambda—now to preserve the universe from becoming less dense as it enlarges in volume.

Nearly two decades later, a related “steady state” universe would be offered by Hermann Bondi, Fred Hoyle and Tommy Gold, in papers distributed in 1949. But these published models of the universe are not supported by modern theories. A theory of modern cosmology is that as the universe will expand a great deal (after an unbelievably lengthy period of time), it will convert into very thinly occupied, reasonably than dense, with lost photons and electrons whooshing alone through huge areas of vacuum.


*It’s exciting that Einstein constantly misspells the name of Edwin Hubble (“Hubbel”). Had he not yet met Hubble in person? Well we don’t know. The spelling mistake does point at the statement that Hubble’s discovery was not yet so intensely recognized so that his name would be well known by all researchers.


1 Comment

  1. I’m not a physicist or any other kind of scientist, but I do have a possible theory of why the universe could be much much older than we think, possibly why the universe didn’t start with a Big Bang and why it is not expanding, or static. I think it could be plausible if all galaxies are gravitational bound by a truly massive singularity that would live at the centre of our universe, and for which they orbit. So possibly the universe is an orbital structure. The most obvious reason for this is because that’s how all other cosmological bodies seem to work. I don’t see why the universe should be any different to that of the structures that constitute its borders, i.e solar systems and galaxies. Just as moons orbit planets, and planets orbit suns, and suns orbit the singularity at the centre of galaxies. I believe a possible conclusion could be that, all galaxies orbit in a flat plane around the equator of the largest mass in our universe. Because everything else seems to follow this same simple plan. The largest object of any structure is always at the centre, and everything else of lesser mass orbits around it’s equator. So therefore, possibly no Big Bang, and no Dark Energy expanding it. Let me try and explain my idea with a simple thought experiment, a thought experiment that might show an alternative conclusion to Hubble’s observations. Hubble’s observations showed that most galaxies around us are red shifted as we observe them, due to the Doppler effect. Meaning they’re moving away from us, and the further from us they are, the faster they’re accelerating away. These observations ultimately lead to the conclusion that the universe started off with a Big Bang, at a single tiny point. But I believe it’s possible this could be the wrong conclusion. Because nothing else in the universe seems to follow this plan, everything else seems to follow an orbital structure. And if in fact the universe works just like everything else, then that’d make everything so much simpler, and physics is always trying to make things more simple. If the structure of the universe is indeed an orbital one? Then the best way to imagine it, is to imagine a round running track. In other words a running track without straights, and because the universe is huge, imagine a running track with say, 1000 lanes. In every lane there is a runner, each representing a single galaxy. To make things easier, we’ll say all the runners are of equal talent and run at the same speed, even though all galaxies are not of equal size and therefore may move at different speeds. To begin the experiment the runners line up at the starting line. When the signal is given to start, we take the perspective of the runner in lane 500 possibly representing the Milky Way galaxy. As the runners start moving away, then what would we observe? From our perspective we would see all the runners on the inside lanes moving away from us, in a nice arch, and not because they are travelling faster than us, but because they have an ever increasingly shorter orbit the closer their lane is to the centre. Also we would be moving away from all the runners in the outside lanes for the same reason, the further out you go, the longer their orbit will be. So in conclusion, everyone is moving away from us, and the further away they are, the faster their acceleration is, or alternatively our acceleration from them. Exactly what Edwin Hubble observed all those years ago. But not because of a Big Bang expanding universe structure, but instead, an orbital one. There will also be galaxies in the blue light spectrum, i.e moving towards us, but they will never be moving directly towards us as they are on a different and shorter orbits around the universe. Ultimately they will pass by and accelerate away, becoming red shifted. Also, the galaxies in front of us and with a longer orbit, i.e further out from the centre than us, will also be blue shifted, due to the possibility that we’re catching up to, and ultimately passing them. From this point on they will become red shifted. The merger between the Andromeda galaxy, and our galaxy, the Milky Way, means that we must be on very similar orbits, and just like a larger Athlete usually runs faster than a smaller one. The Andromeda galaxy might be catching up to us. Another thing this theory implies, is the universe is much much older than we could ever imagine, much older than the 14 billion years that has been determined. Because everything dies and is reborn into something else, then everything would be almost endlessly orbiting around the universe being recycled over and over again. Also, this picture fits much better with recent observations of the CMB radiation, i.e everything’s moving in the same direction and in an arch. Also, if we can measure the arch of any of the galaxies. Then we will be able to figure out the size of their orbit, and ultimately an approximate size of our universe.

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