A Well-Nigh Discovery: Einstein and the Expanding Universe

  • David R. Topper


Dark Energy Cosmological Constant Empty Space Early 20th Century Solar Eclipse 
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  1. Einstein’s 1930–31 visit to Caltech is discussed (with remarks on Hubble’s view of his law) in David Topper and Dwight Vincent, “Posing Einstein’s Question, Questioning Einstein’s Pose,” The Physics Teacher, 38, No. 5 (May, 2000), pp. 278–288. On Einstein’s exchange with de Sitter, see Carla Kahn and Franz Kahn, “Letters from Einstein to de Sitter on the Nature of the Universe,” Nature, 257 (October 9, 1975), pp. 451–454. The Lemaître quotation from Einstein is in Robert W. Smith, “Edwin P. Hubble and the Transformation of Cosmology,” Physics Today (April, 1990), pp. 52–58 (p. 57). An important article on 20th century cosmology is Helge Kragh and Robert W. Smith, “Who Discovered the Expanding Universe?,” History of Science 41, No. 2 (June, 2003), pp. 141–162.Google Scholar
  2. On the story of Shapley’s blunder and the Gingerich anecdote, see Robert W. Smith, The Expanding Universe: Astronomy’s “Great Debate” 1900–1931 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), p.144, note 122. Also, Shapley’s remark upon hearing of Hubble’s discovery is quoted in Noriss S. Hetherington, “Hubble’s Cosmology,” American Scientist 78 (March–April, 1990), pp. 142–151 (on p. 144). Shapley’s autobiography is, Through Rugged Ways to the Stars: The Reminiscences of an Astronomer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1969).Google Scholar
  3. Einstein’s famous statement about the cosmological constant being the biggest blunder of his life is reported by the physicist and cosmologist George Gamow; he mentions it in an article “The Evolutionary Universe,” in Scientific American (September, 1956) and repeats it in My World Line: An Informal Autobiography (New York: Viking Press, 1970), p. 44.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Topper
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of WinnipegWinnipegCanada R3B2E9

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