Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Expansion of the universe...who conceived this notion?


The recent literature of history of astronomy and cosmology has included a good many suggestions for "who first recognized the expansion of the universe?" with cases having been made for Lemaître, Lundmark, de Sitter, Slipher, Shapley, Friedmann, Wirtz and perhaps others. I will touch on these but also mention others (some of whose names have not come down to us) who might reasonably be credited with some part of the basic idea, but conclude that "Hubble's Law" is the right choice ("because it was discovered by Lundmark" in accordance with Stigler's Law). Of course there are a couple of previously unsung heroes (Dose and Zöllner), and the discussion bears some traces of its origins as an after-dinner talk.

"Anybody but Hubble" by Virginia Trimble

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