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Previous Next Up Topic Cosmology / Alternative Cosmology / History of static universe research (4258 hits)
By Ari Jokimäki Date 2009-03-30 11:41
It is very hard to find decent information on the history of static universe research (excluding Einstein and Hubble), so any good resources on the subject to this thread, please. :)

I just found this paper (hence this thread):

Cosmology Between the Wars: The Nernst-MacMillan Alternative - Kragh (1995)
By Ari Jokimäki Date 2009-03-31 09:59
Here's a few papers more (some of these are already well known here):

The Static Universe of Walther Nernst - Huber & Jaakkola (1995)
The Evolution of Alternative Cosmologies - Narlikar (2001)
History of the 2.7 K Temperature Prior to Penzias and Wilson - Assis & Neves (1995)
A COSMIC ARCHIPELAGO: MULTIVERSE SCENARIOS IN THE HISTORY OF MODERN COSMOLOGY - Bettini (2005) (discusses some things related to the subject here)
Dark Energy: back to Newton? - Calder & Lahav (2008) (paper on the history of dark energy surprisingly discusses lot of static universe issues)
By Jade Annand Date 2009-04-01 01:09
Admittedly, I haven't looked at Nernst's work very much. I'm intrigued that he came up with the energy decay requirement before the seminal redshift paper.

Actually, I'm pretty intrigued at a lot of the things he came up with that sound pretty similar to our seven-or-so-decades-later ramblings.

Ah well, 14 years since Huber & Jaakkola's paper... and I don't think Nernst's insights really contributed.
By Ari Jokimäki Date 2009-04-03 16:06
Yep, Nernst seems to be one of the more interesting historical figures.

I found something that is more like I have been looking (the chapter on infinity seems to be interesting for example):

The life of the universe : as conceived by man from the earliest ages to the present time - Svante Arrhenius (1909)

The thing I have been looking being the actual historical writings on the subject. That is interesting resource I linked there, it seems to have huge amount of historical books freely available. Nernst own writings on the subject have been mostly in German. Perhaps I should try to learn a new language...
By Jade Annand Date 2009-04-04 04:11
Ari said:

the chapter on infinity seems to be interesting for example


That chapter is pretty interesting. I get a kick out of some of the pronouncements, especially the authoritative these-other-ideas-are-silly tone of them. Some are destined to be wrong, some may come true again, I suspect.

Things like:
Arrhenius said:

It seems unnatural to assume that the line of sight could gradually become curved in space. All these notions which excited considerable attention for some time after the middle of the last century have almost completely been abandoned, all the more so because the idea proved barren in scientific respects.


He seems convinced that Olber's paradox was solvable by positing that dark celestial bodies prevent it, and that:
Arrhenius said:

Thus there remains no other conclusion but that the number of stars in infinite space must be infinite.


As to the universe being created:
Arrhenius said:

There is a strange inconsistency in the notion that the world could suddenly have begun to exist.


The thesis of the indestructibility of matter that they use to support the infinite universe has proven false, though a more encompassing matter-energy one is probably not very far off.

He actually goes through a contemporary description of entropy and heat death and why that might convince some that it had a beginning:
Arrhenius said:

If the world really tended towards thermal extinction, we do not see why this fate should not have befallen the world already in the infinite ages through which it has manifestly passed. And since we convince ourselves every day, that the world has not yet been struck by this fate, we should consistently conclude, that the idea of eternity has no real basis, and the the world has not yet been struck by this fate, we should consistently conclude, that the idea of eternity has no real basis, and that the world cannot have been existent for unthinkable ages, but must have had a beginning, i.e. that it must have been created, and that the creation gave us both matter and energy.

By his "degradation of energy", Lord Kelvin has lent his authoritative support to the doctrine of thermal extinction. Yet the doctrine implies the absolute negation of the idea of eternity which is the foundation of the mechanical theory of heat. We must look for some way out of this difficulty.


This is followed by some proposals which follow cycles, and a few philosophers who posited, but could not find, "dispersive forces" that would work. The last explanatory mechanism seemed to assume that explosive compounds would at last blow out the suns, and this would be the way around heat death. Hrm.

It's interesting to see the conflict between cosmology and geology, which also plagued some of the earlier Big Bang estimates:
Arrhenius said:

...We have already explained that on this supposition the Sun could not have been radiating heat at the present rate for more than 20 million years.

Geologists, however, would not listen to such estimates. They demanded for the deposition of the earliest Cambrian fossil-bearing strata something of the order of a hundred or a thousand million years...


The rest of it is a pretty interesting read.

Ari said:

Nernst own writings on the subject have been mostly in German. Perhaps I should try to learn a new language...


*laugh* That seems a tad on the extreme side :)
By Ari Jokimäki Date 2009-04-14 14:28
Ok, I'm just (finally) reading the infinity chapter...

Ritchie said:

He seems convinced that Olber's paradox was solvable by positing that dark celestial bodies prevent it,...

Very interesting to find this argument from so old writing. I have sometimes considered that a sea of black holes might solve Olbers' paradox, and this Arrhenius' argument (or perhaps he is just citing someone else's idea) is almost exactly the same. But when he proceeds to name cold nebulae as candidates for suitable objects for this paradox, it shows the lack of observational information back then relating to galaxies and intergalactic space.

Ritchie said:

and that:
Arrhenius said:

Thus there remains no other conclusion but that the number of stars in infinite space must be infinite.

I'm not sure if I understand his reasoning for this statement though. Apparently he argues that gaseous nebulae have a tendency to expand and then expel matter, and somehow this should lead to number of stars having to be infinite in infinite space?

...

This was well said:

Arrhenius said:

This inconsistency is really incomprehensible, as incomprehensible indeed as if we were boldly to assert that the stars to the north of the ecliptic were infinite in number, but not those to the south of it.

:)

Ritchie said:

The last explanatory mechanism seemed to assume that explosive compounds would at last blow out the suns, and this would be the way around heat death. Hrm.

Radioactivity seemed to have an important role in there as well, although I must admit that at this point I was skipping quite a lot... :)

Arrhenius said:

The energy which the suns lose is refound in the nebulae, which in their turn play the part of the suns. Thus matter passes through a continuous cycle of stages of energy absorption and energy emission.

So you have stars and nebulae. Stars radiate heat and turn the nebulae into stars, and perhaps stars turn into nebulae by those "dispersive forces".

It's a rather long chapter, I'll continue later.
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