Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Historians Rediscover Einstein's Forgotten Model of the Universe

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the rough-draft dept.

Space 35

KentuckyFC writes In 1931, after a 3- month visit to the U.S., Einstein penned a little known paper that attempted to show how his theory of general relativity could account for some of the latest scientific evidence. In particular, Einstein had met Edwin Hubble during his trip and so was aware of the latter's data indicating that the universe must be expanding. The resulting model is of a universe that expands and then contracts with a singularity at each end. In other words, Einstein was studying a universe that starts with a big bang and ends in a big crunch. What's extraordinary about the paper is that Einstein misspells Hubble's name throughout and makes a number of numerical errors in his calculations. That's probably because he wrote the paper in only 4 days, say the historians who have translated it into English for the time. This model was ultimately superseded by the Einstein-de Sitter model published the following year which improves on this in various ways and has since become the workhorse of modern cosmology.

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Ich verstehe Deutsch ganz fein (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47668625)

wieso muss es englisch sein?

But we ain't gonna have a Big Cruch, right ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47668661)

Dunno much about astronomy, but sometimes ago some online reports that I read, they say that the universe gonna expands and expands and expands, that they were looking for signs of that "Big Crunch" but they couldn't find it

But if Einstein's paper is to be true, then perhaps they are looking for "Big Crunch" at the wrong place

Re:But we ain't gonna have a Big Cruch, right ? (5, Informative)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month ago | (#47668685)

The Hindu's have some mindbogglingly long number they came up with like 12000 years ago that's supposed to be how long the Universe spends between Big Bangs, before it's reborn. As in the Hindu religion there is no death, no end of the world, everything cycles on, in a perpetual reincarnation way. I think it's one of the biggest numbers that humans ever came up with, bigger than Aristotle's cattle problem, but not sure. I'm too lazy to research it and look up references and substantiate claims for it right now, but there you have it, a fleeting idea.

Re:But we ain't gonna have a Big Cruch, right ? (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about a month ago | (#47668733)

Apropo reincarnation, when I told somebody one time "We apologize for being born, promise it won't happen again" he went into this deep thought, in an - oh yeah, you promise not to reincarnate - kinda way? Yeah right, It's not a true promise, or a believable one. And someone else jealous in the nuthouse really recommended cremation as the best way to get buried, I'm guessing just so that nobody digs your bones from the ground and starts another lookalike of you Jurassic Park style. People you meet, I tell ya. But even John Paul the 2nd wanted to be buried in the ground. Why? He may not have felt that there is enough of people like him in the world, something that the Chinese may feel like when they unanimously approve a one child policy, saying there is too many of us, too many of our kind. I'm being sarcastic, of course. Almost everybody likes to live. Even as sperm donors to baby mommas they never see again, where they don't have anything to do with their offspring. I for one would like to get cremated, when my time comes, and my body substance, like phosphate, recycled into the living world. There are already enough people like me in the world, or close enough, I see them all over the place. Most of the heavier than hydrogen atoms that make up my body matter originally came from star dust, from a supernova explosion, and hopefully one day they will go through another supernova explosion, and become star dust again, before they make up yet another, strange but intelligent life form again, long before the next Big Bang has to happen.

Re:But we ain't gonna have a Big Cruch, right ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47669083)

Joyce or Wolfe?

Re:But we ain't gonna have a Big Cruch, right ? (2)

Cardoor (3488091) | about a month ago | (#47670709)

an occasional <br> goes a long way bro

Re:But we ain't gonna have a Big Cruch, right ? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a month ago | (#47669051)

I think it's one of the biggest numbers that humans ever came up with

From WP - "Bramha's entire life equals 311 trillion, 40 billion years.". However Hinduism didn't exist 12,000yrs ago, it arose in the Hindus valley civilization about 4000 years ago.

Re:But we ain't gonna have a Big Cruch, right ? (1)

RenderSeven (938535) | about a month ago | (#47670551)

Yep GP had a few math issues
- Hindu cycle is 311.04 trillion (3.11 * 10^14).
- Came up with that ~2000 BC
- The Cattle Problem was Archimedes not Aristotle
- Solution to that is 7.76 * 10^206544
- Thats a few more cattle than years. Even if we convert it to nanoseconds.
- Years in the vishnu cycle is about the same oreder of magnitude as the number of nanoseconds in a year.

Re:But we ain't gonna have a Big Cruch, right ? (2)

jfengel (409917) | about a month ago | (#47671297)

Archimedes' Sand Reckoner [] is considerably bigger. He's calculating the number of possible grains of sand in the world and comes up with a number equivalent to 10^63. He also talks abstractly about numbers far, far bigger than that, up to (10^8)^(10^8).

His goal wasn't really to calculate anything, just to show that numbers keep going up without becoming infinite.

Re:But we ain't gonna have a Big Cruch, right ? (2)

crioca (1394491) | about a month ago | (#47668809)

No, we're not going to have a Big Crunch, as far as we can be certain of anything. As TFA says Einstein and De Sitter published an updated model a year later that went with the "expanding universe" theory.

Re:But we ain't gonna have a Big Cruch, right ? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a month ago | (#47669071)

We currently think it will go on expanding until it reaches "heat death", after that there are differing opinions. Roger Penrose seems to think there will be a "quantum bounce", ie: the universe after heat death looks uniform in the same way the very early universe was uniform. Penrose speculates when it gets to that state it mathematically "forgets" how big it is and starts all over again.

Re:But we ain't gonna have a Big Cruch, right ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47669305)

In a universe where expansion is accelerating, heat death isn't a certainty.

Re:But we ain't gonna have a Big Cruch, right ? (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about a month ago | (#47670215)

Heat death is scheduled to happen a googol years from now. If the Big Rip hypothesis is true then the universe's life is already a half over. Then dark energy expansion will successively disintegrate galaxies, then solar systems, planets, humans, atoms, and protons in a cataclysmic disaster.

Re:Ich verstehe Deutsch ganz fein (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47670077)

Then read the German original here [] .

In the case you wonder (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47668647)

He spelled Hubble as "Hubbel", german way. Hubbel [] is also a german word meaning "bump".

Re:In the case you wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47670397)

And notably the German "Hubbel" an the English "Hubble" are phonetically identical

Extraordinary misspelling? (4, Insightful)

grouchomarxist (127479) | about a month ago | (#47668651)

For some reason I don't find Einstein making a spelling mistake particularly extraordinary. Sounds like a particularly ordinary thing for an un-edited manuscript and a unusual name like "Hubble".

If making a spelling mistake is extraordinary, then /.ers are making extraordinary posts all the time.

Re:Extraordinary misspelling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47668753)

Consistently incorrect spelling of a proper noun barely qualifies as misspelling.

Re:Extraordinary misspelling? (3, Insightful)

Calydor (739835) | about a month ago | (#47668805)

Consistent incorrect spelling of a proper noun from another language as a legitimate word in your own language ... If Einstein never saw the name in writing it's a rather easy mistake to make.

Re:Extraordinary misspelling? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47669303)

Not only that, in German "Hubbel" is - aside from the u - a good phonetic approximation of "Hubble".

Re:Extraordinary misspelling? (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about a month ago | (#47669557)

Exactly. Every time I adjust my gunpowder recipe, I have to go to Google to look up how Mr. Noble's name is spelled.

Hubble? Hubbel? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47668657)

The name is only wrong relative to Hubble's own preference.

truyen phat giao (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47668677)

zero theorem? (1)

BurstElement (1332791) | about a month ago | (#47668697)

So he was working on zip-t?

Hey, let's judge Einstein by Slashdot standards! (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a month ago | (#47668701)

He misspelled the guy's name several times? Then he's an idiot, and any point he's trying to make is worthless.

Re:Hey, let's judge Einstein by Slashdot standards (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47668747)

You're worthless! You're all worthless! Only I have any worth around here! My ego is the biggest! I know it's true because I said so!

QR story (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47668703)

Einstein's Forgotten _Draft_ Model of the Universe (4, Insightful)

jovius (974690) | about a month ago | (#47668759)

This is basically a peer review of an unpublished draft paper by Einstein. It would have been interesting to have Einstein's response, but on the other hand Einstein-de Sitter model is the result of further dialogue.

Re:Einstein's Forgotten _Draft_ Model of the Unive (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47668957)

I'm sure it went something like this:

Einstein: "I'm jsut a littel bit drnku. Cna soemone please reivew my darft?"
Astrophysicist Dog: "Hello, this is dog."
Einstein: "I mstu be mroe drnk tahn I tuhoght"

Einstein-de Sitter (4, Informative)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a month ago | (#47669087)

The EdS model is not "the workhorse of modern cosmology", no matter what the author of this summary wants you to think. If any model could be described thus it would be the Friedman-Lemaitre-Robertson-Walker model, which was already known (thanks to Friedman and Lemaitre who developed it in the 20s) by 1931. The EdS model is a specialisation of the FLRW to a universe containing pure pressureless matter, and an expansion is necessarily decelerating. As such not only can it not describe the early universe, when the existence of the CMB and the expansion of the universe together imply a period where the universe was instead dominated by radiation, nor the late universe, where observations imply that expansion is instead accelerating. EdS was used as an approximation to the late time universe until the 90s when it was obvious that it was in conflict with observation. It's sometimes still used for rough approximations thanks to the simple solutions one can find for linear perturbations, but those are only valid up to redshifts of approximately 1, and no later.

Re:Einstein-de Sitter (3, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a month ago | (#47669519)

But the Friedman-Lemaitre-Robertson-Walker model is based on the Einstein-DeSitter model: []

They're even credited and referred to multiple times.

Re:Einstein-de Sitter (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47671843)

Other way round, the EdS is a specialisation of the FLRW, and Friedman and Lemaitre both developed their models before 1932. These weren't the final forms of what we now call FLRW models -- otherwise it wouldn't be necessary to put the RW on the end -- but technically their models did precede the EdS, and are a superset. I have absolutely no idea how well that was appreciated at the time, mind you.

Basically, an FLRW is a metric composed of completely homogeneous and isotropic 3-surfaces, all stacked one on top of the other. You can have any kind of matter you like on the surfaces, just so long as it's also distributed completely homogeneously and isotropically. For instance, a de Sitter model (not Einstein-de Sitter; this is a different thing) is an FLRW filled only with a cosmological constant and which therefore expands exponentially; models of inflation are quasi-de Sitter because they mimic a de Sitter expansion but with a scalar field that almost, but not quite, behaves in the same way. An Einstein-de Sitter model is filled with pressureless "dust", which expands as t^2/3. So far as I know there isn't a name for the FLRW filled only with radiation, but if you set one up it expands as t^1/3 -- the slower expansion coming from the additional gravitational "mass" contributed by the radiation pressure. (The gravitational "mass" is density plus pressure (times c^2 but we habitually set c = 1 so that we measure time in metres or distance in seconds); so a cosmological constant has zero gravitational "mass" since by definition its pressure is exactly minus its density, while radiation (pressure = density / 3, so density + pressure = (4/3) * density) has a higher gravitational "mass" than dust (density + pressure = density).)

  -- boristhespider

Re:Einstein-de Sitter (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a month ago | (#47672455)

(That was my reply, from a computer that I wasn't going to log onto Slashdot through.)

Re:Einstein-de Sitter (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a month ago | (#47672581)

Also, more to the direct point, in the article we've kind of moved away from discussing is this snippet [p5]:

He [Einstein] notes that some theoretical attempts have already been made to explain the new observations:
“Several investigators have attempted to account for the new facts by means of a spherical space, whose radius P is variable over time”.
Once again, no specific citations are made, so we can only presume that Einstein is referring to works such as those by Lemaître, Eddington, de Sitter and Tolman (Lemaître 1927; Eddington 1930; de Sitter 1930a,b; Tolman 1929, 1930). Indeed, the only specific reference in the entire paper is to Alexander Friedmann’s model of 1922:
“The first to try this approach, uninfluenced by observations, was A. Friedman, on whose calculations I base the following remarks”

This not only provides a few references to papers that Einstein -- in 1931, writing before the derivation of the Einstein-de Sitter model -- may well have based his work on, including the Friedman and Lemaitre models that were proven in the 30s by Robertson and Walker (working independently) to be the unique dynamical, homogeneous and isotropic models, but also shows that Einstein was aware of the Friedman model. (If you're interested, Tolman's work was on spherically-symmetric models that are isotropic but not homogeneous, and are subsets of what are now known as the Lemaitre-Tolman-Bondi models. The de Sitter papers, I think, established de Sitter and anti-de Sitter space, and I wasn't aware of Eddington's paper before but reading through the article here it turns out to have been on the instability of the Einstein static universe.)

Only four days? (1)

PPH (736903) | about a month ago | (#47670713)

Someone must have thrown that one-click shopping patent in his in box.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>