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Steve 25 February 2014 06:33 PM

Einstein's Lost Theory Uncovered
A manuscript that lay unnoticed by scientists for decades has revealed that Albert Einstein once dabbled with an alternative to the Big Bang theory, proposing instead that the Universe expanded steadily and eternally. The recently uncovered work, written in 1931, is reminiscent of a theory championed by British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle nearly 20 years later. Einstein soon abandoned the idea, but the manuscript reveals his continued hesitance to accept that the Universe was created during a single explosive event.

Johnny Slick 25 February 2014 06:42 PM

I guess this is kind of minor in terms of bad science journalism, but I'm pretty sure people aren't saying "the universe was created" at the Big Bang. Rather, that's as far back as we can trace history. There could well have been some prior entity that contracted into the singularity; we have no way of knowing this.

UEL 25 February 2014 06:51 PM


Originally Posted by Johnny Slick (Post 1804741)
I guess this is kind of minor in terms of bad science journalism...

I would not necessarily call it bad science journalism, Johnny. I recently rediscovered a favourite quote I used to trot out from time to time, but have not used it in a decade. Given the quality of the articles in Nature and Scientific American, I think this is probably more a case of:


“When you are talking to technically illiterate people you must resort to the plausible falsehood instead of the difficult truth.” - Theodore von Kármán (1881-1963)

ganzfeld 25 February 2014 10:07 PM

Sure, that's how many scientists have been describing it for more than 6 decades, so now let's blame the journalists. In fact, the word "Creation" (Hoyle's Continuous Creation) is in the title of the very first document that ever printed the term Big Bang.

Richard W 25 February 2014 10:18 PM

I didn't realise that the steady state theory post-dated general relativity by such an amount. For some reason I'd thought all the different ideas about collapsing or expanding or steady universes started about the same time (indeed, as a result - or at least were there already). I knew they were all potentially valid solutions to the equations, and I knew that people were still working out all the consequences of general relativity for decades after, but hadn't put those facts together. Cosmology was never my strong point...

It's not really a controversy or a surprise in the sense they're trying to imply, though. Einstein was a theoretical physicist and these different states are all theoretically valid according to his ideas. I guess I would have assumed he went with the consensus as far as observation was concerned, but it's not surprising that he considered the other possibilities. It would be more surprising to me if he hadn't.

ganzfeld 26 February 2014 12:41 PM


These theories were based on the hypothesis that all the matter in the universe was created in one big bang at a particular time in the past.
That's the first sentence in which the term 'big bang' was used in print to describe the cosmological concept. From then on, almost every time it was explained the scientists used the words created, originated, started, began, etc. Most scientists still discuss the Big Bang as the beginning of all time, energy, and matter - indeed the beginning of the universe - not only as "as far back as we can see". So it's simply wrong to say that the journalists got it wrong by using the word "created".

ganzfeld 26 February 2014 12:57 PM

In this post, I had posted that they got the part about Hoyle championing the theory wrong but I had misread that sentence. I shall read more carefully next time!

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