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Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

For over three millennia, most people could understand the universe only in terms of myth, religion, and philosophy. Between 1920 and 1970, cosmology transformed into a branch of physics. With this remarkably rapid change came a theory that would finally lend empirical support to many long-held beliefs about the origins and development of the entire universe: the theory of the big bang. In this book, Helge Kragh presents the development of scientific cosmology for the first time as a historical event, one that embroiled many famous scientists in a controversy over the very notion of an evolving universe with a beginning in time. In rich detail he examines how the big-bang theory drew inspiration from and eventually triumphed over rival views, mainly the steady-state theory and its concept of a stationary universe of infinite age.

In the 1920s, Alexander Friedmann and Georges Lemaître showed that Einstein's general relativity equations possessed solutions for a universe expanding in time. Kragh follows the story from here, showing how the big-bang theory evolved, from Edwin Hubble's observation that most galaxies are receding from us, to the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Sir Fred Hoyle proposed instead the steady-state theory, a model of dynamic equilibrium involving the continuous creation of matter throughout the universe. Although today it is generally accepted that the universe started some ten billion years ago in a big bang, many readers may not fully realize that this standard view owed much of its formation to the steady-state theory. By exploring the similarities and tensions between the theories, Kragh provides the reader with indispensable background for understanding much of today's commentary about our universe.

Synopsis:

"The ultimate validation of the big-bang theory makes for a fascinating book. Kragh [tells] the story in comprehensive and compelling detail."--Jack Zirker, National Optical Astronomy Observatories

Synopsis:

For over three millennia, most people could understand the universe only in terms of myth, religion, and philosophy. Between 1920 and 1970, cosmology transformed into a branch of physics. With this remarkably rapid change came a theory that would finally lend empirical support to many long-held beliefs about the origins and development of the entire universe: the theory of the big bang. In this book, Helge Kragh presents the development of scientific cosmology for the first time as a historical event, one that embroiled many famous scientists in a controversy over the very notion of an evolving universe with a beginning in time. In rich detail he examines how the big-bang theory drew inspiration from and eventually triumphed over rival views, mainly the steady-state theory and its concept of a stationary universe of infinite age.

In the 1920s, Alexander Friedmann and Georges Lemaître showed that Einstein's general relativity equations possessed solutions for a universe expanding in time. Kragh follows the story from here, showing how the big-bang theory evolved, from Edwin Hubble's observation that most galaxies are receding from us, to the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Sir Fred Hoyle proposed instead the steady-state theory, a model of dynamic equilibrium involving the continuous creation of matter throughout the universe. Although today it is generally accepted that the universe started some ten billion years ago in a big bang, many readers may not fully realize that this standard view owed much of its formation to the steady-state theory. By exploring the similarities and tensions between the theories, Kragh provides the reader with indispensable background for understanding much of today's commentary about our universe.

Table of Contents

Preface
Ch. 1Background: From Einstein to Hubble3
Ch. 2Lemaitre's Fireworks Universe22
Ch. 3Gamow's Big Bang80
Ch. 4The Steady-State Alternative142
Ch. 5Creation and Controversy202
Ch. 6The Universe Observed269
Ch. 7From Controversy to Marginalization318
Ch. 8Epilogue: Dynamics of a Controversy389
Appendix IA Cosmological Chronology, 1917-1971397
Appendix IITechnical Glossary400
Notes403
Bibliography447
Index487

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691005461
Subtitle:
The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe
Author:
Kragh, Helge
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Location:
Princeton, NJ
Subject:
History
Subject:
Cosmology
Subject:
Astronomy - Universe
Subject:
Cosmogony
Subject:
Astronomy - General
Subject:
Astronomy
Subject:
History of Science and Medicine, Philosophy of Science
Subject:
Physics
Subject:
Mathematics
Subject:
Astronomy and Cosmology
Subject:
Physics and Astroscience
Subject:
Math and Computer Science
Subject:
History of Science-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
1
Publication Date:
February 1999
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Illustrations:
4 tables 23 line illus.
Pages:
488
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 25 oz

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Related Subjects

Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
Reference » Science Reference » General
Science and Mathematics » Astronomy » Cosmology
Science and Mathematics » Astronomy » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Cosmology
Science and Mathematics » Physics » General

Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe New Trade Paper
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Product details 488 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691005461 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "The ultimate validation of the big-bang theory makes for a fascinating book. Kragh [tells] the story in comprehensive and compelling detail."--Jack Zirker, National Optical Astronomy Observatories
"Synopsis" by , For over three millennia, most people could understand the universe only in terms of myth, religion, and philosophy. Between 1920 and 1970, cosmology transformed into a branch of physics. With this remarkably rapid change came a theory that would finally lend empirical support to many long-held beliefs about the origins and development of the entire universe: the theory of the big bang. In this book, Helge Kragh presents the development of scientific cosmology for the first time as a historical event, one that embroiled many famous scientists in a controversy over the very notion of an evolving universe with a beginning in time. In rich detail he examines how the big-bang theory drew inspiration from and eventually triumphed over rival views, mainly the steady-state theory and its concept of a stationary universe of infinite age.

In the 1920s, Alexander Friedmann and Georges Lemaître showed that Einstein's general relativity equations possessed solutions for a universe expanding in time. Kragh follows the story from here, showing how the big-bang theory evolved, from Edwin Hubble's observation that most galaxies are receding from us, to the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Sir Fred Hoyle proposed instead the steady-state theory, a model of dynamic equilibrium involving the continuous creation of matter throughout the universe. Although today it is generally accepted that the universe started some ten billion years ago in a big bang, many readers may not fully realize that this standard view owed much of its formation to the steady-state theory. By exploring the similarities and tensions between the theories, Kragh provides the reader with indispensable background for understanding much of today's commentary about our universe.

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