I've been doing some research for a cosmology series and I'm struck by how many physicists and philosophers, from Newton to Einstein, had a notion that the Universe should be static and eternal. Why was this view so widespread?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Because that is what it looked like, to the naked eye or through telescope. Unchanging, except for minute events here and there. A natural surmise was that on a grand scale it is at equilibrium, static. Subtle observational effects of galaxies moving weren't confirmed until Hubble in 1929. The time scale of expansion turned out to be far greater than the scale of historical observations which suggested the equilibrium. $\endgroup$ – Conifold Jul 27 at 21:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "Eternal" removes awkward problems with beginning/end (what was before/after) and causes. Eternal and non static implies some kind of (eternal) recurrence. So there seems to be really good a priori reasons for the preference of an eternal and static universe. $\endgroup$ – sand1 Jul 28 at 9:21
  • $\begingroup$ @sand1 .... at least from an emotional point of view. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jul 29 at 12:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Thomas more likely many early folk thought it was static and eternal, rather than "should be" which implies evidence to the contrary that they disliked. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jul 29 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ The scientific principle states that one shouldn't make any unnecessary hypothesis. If the Universe looks static why should one believe it to be otherwise? $\endgroup$ – Leo Aug 8 at 11:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.