Varying Gravity

  • Helge Kragh
Part of the Science Networks. Historical Studies book series (SNHS, volume 54)


The unorthodox idea that the gravitational constant G varies slowly in time arose in the late 1930s in the context of a cosmological theory proposed by the English physicist Paul Dirac. The idea was received coolly, not only because it led to a much too small age of the universe but also because it contradicted the general theory of relativity and, on the top of that, was thought to be untestable. However, Dirac’s idea was taken up and further developed by Pascual Jordan in Germany and after World War II it slowly began to attract attention among physicists and astronomers. In 1948 the hypothesis of varying gravity made its first connection to the earth sciences in the form of an attempt, made by Edward Teller, to test the hypothesis by means of a paleoclimatic argument. The test was inconclusive and was initially ignored by the earth scientists.


Cosmological Model Gravitational Constant Beta Decay Gravitation Theory Hubble Time 
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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helge Kragh
    • 1
  1. 1.Niels Bohr ArchiveNiels Bohr InstituteCopenhagenDenmark

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