Steady State Theory

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Steady State Theory

The Steady State Theory of the universe was put forward in 1948 by cosmologists Hermann Bondi (b. 1919) and Thomas Gold (b. 1920), who were later joined by Fred Hoyle (19152001). The theory was an alternative to the standard Big Bang cosmology of the day, which suggested that the universe has a finite age. Motivated openly by philosophical implications of a non-eternal universe, Bondi, Gold, and Hoyle sought to discover whether an alternate explanation for the astronomical observations that produced the Big Bang theory was possible. The theory proposed the continuous creation of new matter in the empty spaces of expanding space-time. The idea of continuous creation was argued to be less problematic than the dramatic singularity of the Big Bang, which the Steady State Theory could avoid.

The theory was largely abandoned after the discovery by Arno Penzias (b. 1933) and Robert Wilson (b. 1936) in 1965 of the microwave background radiation in the universe, which showed that the universe was much denser in the distant past, contrary to the predictions of the Steady State Theory. While the theory never gained widespread support it played an important role in the history of modern science. It helped to tentatively confirm the status of standard Big Bang cosmology, it showed the importance and necessity of seeking alternate theories, and it demonstrated that philosophical and even theological views can be significant sources of inspiration for scientific theories.

See also Big Bang Theory; Creatio Continua

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