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Stephen Hawking's Universe: Universes


Proposed in 1948 by Hermann Bondi, Thomas

Gold, and Fred Hoyle, the steady-state theory was
Fred Hoyle based on an extension of something called the
perfect cosmological principle. This holds that the
Quasars universe looks essentially the same from every spot
in it and at every time. (This applies only to the
Arno Penzias and
universe at large scales; obviously planets, stars,
Robert Wilson
and galaxies are different from the space between
Cosmic Background them.)
Obviously, for the universe to look the same at
all times, there could have been no beginning or no
end. This struck a philosophical chord with a
number of scientists, and the steady-state theory
The Big Bang gained many adherents in the 1950s and 1960s.
How could the universe continue to look the same
when observations show it to be expanding, which
would tend to thin out its contents? Supporters of
this cosmology balanced the ever-decreasing
density that results from the expansion by
hypothesizing that matter was continuously created
out of nothing. The amount required was
undetectably smallabout a few atoms for every
cubic mile each year.

The steady-state theory began to wither in the

1960s. First, astronomers discovered quasars, the
highly luminous cores of very distant galaxies. (1 of 2) [6/20/2003 11:35:03 AM]
Stephen Hawking's Universe: Universes

Because the vast majority of quasars lie

exceedingly far away, their existence proves that
the perfect cosmological principle cannot be
truethe distant and therefore ancient universe is
not the same as the younger universe nearby. The
death knell for the theory sounded when radio
astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson
discovered the cosmic microwave background, the
leftover radiation from the Big Bang. The
steady-staters had no reasonable way to explain
this radiation, and their theory slowly faded away
as so many of its predecessors had.

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[PBS Online] [Thirteen Online] (2 of 2) [6/20/2003 11:35:03 AM]

The Steady-State Theory

The Steady-State Theory

An alternative theory to the Big Bang was proposed in 1948 by Hermann Bondi, Thomas Gold,
and Sir Fred Hoyle It was called the steady-state theory. They found the idea of a sudden
beginning to the universe philosophically unsatisfactory. Bondi and Gold suggested that in order
to understand the universe we needed to make observations of its distant parts, which would of
necessity be observations from the past. In order to interpret those observations we must use the
laws of physics, and those have been formulated at the present time. If the state of the universe
was different in the past how could we be sure that the laws of physics were not different in the
past as well? If they were different no valid conclusions could be drawn. For Bondi and Gold not
only would the laws of physics have to be the same in all parts of the universe, but at all times as
well. The Universe would also be the same, always static, always contracting or always
expanding. The first two could be ruled ut by the simple observation that the sky is dark at night.
(see Olber's Paradox)

Hoyle approached the problem mathematically and tried to solve the problem of the creation of
the matter seen all around us, which in the Big Bang theory is all created at the start. He proposed
that the decrease in the density of the universe caused by its expansion is exactly balanced by the
continuous creation of matter condensing into galaxies that take the place of the galaxies that have
receded from the Milky Way, thereby maintaining forever the present appearance of the universe.
In order to produce the matter, a reservoir of energy would be required. In order to prevent this
reservoir being diluted, by the creation of matter and by the expansion of the universe, he made
this reservoir negative. The expansion and creation now work against each other and a steady state
of energy is maintained.
The steady state theorists explained the hydrogen - helium abundance by the presence of
supernovae. Originally the big bang theoy suggested that all the heavy elements were produced at
the start of the universe, but now it is accepted that only the helium and a little lithium was
produced then and both theories now accept the role of supernovae in the creation of heavy
One important and little known attribute of the steady state theory is its importance to an aspect of
electromagnetic and quantum theory. Maxwell's equations of electromagnetism have two
solutions, one positive, one negative. Consider the equation x2 = 4. It has two solutions; x = 2 and
x = -2. In Maxwell's equations the negative solution was usually discarded, as it would correspond
to something travelling backwards in time. However, in 1941 John Wheeler and Richard
Feynman, proposed that by taking seriously the idea that two waves, one travelling forward in
time and one travelling backwards, were produced in electromagnetic interactions certain (1 of 2) [6/21/2003 11:47:17 AM]

The Steady-State Theory

problems in quantum theory disappeared. Between the cause and effect in an experiment the two
waves add together,but before the cause, and after the effect, the two waves cancel, so what we see
is the sequence; cause, interaction, effect. The crucial aspect for cosmology in the Wheeler -
Feynman theory is that the two waves only cancel outside the event if they are both of equal size,
in other words the wave from the future has to be the same size as the wave from the past, and this
implies that the universe is the same in the future as it was in the past and hence in a steady state.
Steady state is not without problems though, there are several areas in which it is in difficulty. One
is the distribution of radio sources. For any sources if the distribution is uniform the fainter ones
will be the most distant. If we draw a sphere around us corresponding to a certain brightness then
the number of such sources will be proportional to the surface area of that sphere, and thus
proportional to radius squared. The number of sources brighter than that certain brightness should
be proportional to the volume of that sphere, an hence radius cubed, as they will all lie within the
sphere. A graph of the log of the number of sources at a particular brightness, to the log of the
number of sources brighter than that brightness, should have a gradient of 1.5 (=3/2) For radio
sources the ratio is 1.8 showing that there are more bright radio sources at greater distance, and
hence earlier times than would be expected for a steady state universe. The conclusion is that the
universe is evolving or at least changing.
The discovery of quasars in 1966, also provided evidence contradicting the steady-state theory.
Quasars are very small but brilliantly luminous extragalactic systems, found only at great
distances. Their light has taken several billion years to reach the earth. Quasars are therefore
objects from the remote past, which indicates that a few billion years ago the constitution of the
universe was very different than it is today.
The steady-state theory is now no longer accepted by most cosmologists, particularly after the
discovery of microwave background radiation in 1965, for which steady state has no explanation.

The Hubble Deep Field photograph taken in 1996 by the Hubble Space Telescope shows the most
distant view known. It was expected to show the birth of galaxies, but instead shows galaxies
looking remarkably like present day ones, perhaps there is life in the steady state yet.

The Schools' Observatory (2 of 2) [6/21/2003 11:47:17 AM]

JCA: Education: Anthropic Cosmological Principle


The Perfect
Cosmological Principle
The Perfect Cosmological Principle is an extension of the Copernican Cosmological
Principle and is that not only

on a large scale, the universe is both

homogeneous and isotropic,
but also that

the universe presents a similar aspect when

viewed from any point in space AND time.

The Perfect Cosmological Principle(s) is very attractive/useful from a philosophical
point of view. It removes the necessity for having to deal with the birth/death of
universe (and the corresponding philosophical issues of what happened before, what
caused the birth, etc). The Universe is and has always been.
This principle is a fundamental assumption of the Steady-State Cosmological Theory.
This principle therefore takes the opposite view of the Anthropic Cosmological

An Analogy
A (small) sentient being living in the center of a "perfect" loaf of bread.
There may be obvious structure on small scales (air bubbles etc), but on the large
scale the loaf can be considered uniform and isotropic
The laws of physics (e.g. which caused the dough to rise) are the same throughout
the loaf.
However, contrary to the case for the Copernican Cosmological Principle the (1 of 2) [6/21/2003 12:12:30 PM]

JCA: Education: Anthropic Cosmological Principle

loaf has always (& will always) exist with the same characteristics as a function
of time.
So if the loaf appears still be rising, (which in this perfect loaf) this
happens uniformly & following the same laws throughout the loaf), then
the density of the loaf must remain constant, thus bread-particles must
spontaneously appear to compensate for the expansion. (2 of 2) [6/21/2003 12:12:30 PM]

JCA: Education: The Steady-State Theory


The Steady-State Theory

The Steady-state theory is based on an extension of the Cosmological Principle such that

On a large scale, the universe is both

homogeneous and isotropic (in 3-D space
AND TIME), and has/will always be so.
To keep the mean density of the universe constant in the light of the (local) expansion requires the
continuous creation of matter
at a rate of about one hydrogen atom per 6 cubic-km per year

Note that (to at least some), the continuous creation of matter is not really any more strange than (say) the
creation of the whole universe in an instant (eg. in a Big Bang).
Since the CMB (detected in 1965), does seem to support an early, hot phase of the universe, the Hot Big
Bang model gained support among most cosmologists at the expense of the Steady-state Theory.

1948 -- Hermann Bondi, Thomas Gold and Fred Hoyle. Several modifications were made in the 1950s.

Avoids (metaphysical) questions like what happened before the Big Bang ?

No explanation of the Cosmic Microwave ackground (CMB). [6/21/2003 12:23:25 PM]

Perfect Cosmological Principle

Perfect Cosmological Principle

We not only do not occupy a preferred place in the Universe, we

also do not occupy a preferred time. The Universe appears
homogeneous and isotropic and the same to all observers at all
times in the Universe. The PCP states that there are preferred
locations in either space or time in the Universe. This is a very
restrictive assumption in that it does not allow room for evolution
of things in the Universe. However, philosophically speaking, this (1 of 2) [6/21/2003 12:05:03 PM]

Perfect Cosmological Principle

is very attractive as it removes the necessity for having a birth

and/or death of the Universe -- the Universe is and has always
been. This notion gave rise to the steady-state models of the
Universe in the 1940's.
However, the idea that our Universe obeys the PCP is hard to
swallow given that we see evolution in our Universe in terms of
the evolution of Quasars, normal galaxies, the CMBR, and
mass-energy conservation.
Also, given that our Universe is expanding, the idea of a
steady-state universe requires that mass be continously created
in order that the Universe appear the same at all times
(expansion ===> increase in volume ===> if the density is to
remain constant that mass must be created to fill the larger
Interestingly, the amount of mass which is required to fulfill this
condtion is very small -- 0.3 atoms per cubic kilometer per year --
and is essentially undetectable. (2 of 2) [6/21/2003 12:05:03 PM]


Professor Joseph Silk
Cosmological principles
The darkness of the night sky
Steady state universe

Cosmological principles
The scientist, although not necessarily the poet or the theologian, commences his study of the universe by
assuming that the laws of physics which are locally measured in the laboratory have more general
applicability. If experiment proves that this assumption is wrong, one then proceeds to explore
generalizations of local physics. In this spirit, cosmology, the science of studies of the universe, is
developed by extrapolation of locally verified laws of physics to remote locations in space and time,
which can be probed with modern astronomical techniques. In a theory of cosmology, simplicity is
sought on sufficiently large scales. The successful theories in physics and mathematics are invariably the
simplest, with the least number of arbitrary degrees of freedom. Postulating that Titan held up the
heavens (where did he come from? Why didn't he get bored? or sleepy?) requires many more ad hoc
assumptions than the realization that the orbits of the planets in the gravity field of the sun suffice to stop
them falling onto the earth like so many shooting stars.
Unlike other branches of science, cosmology is unique in that there is only one universe available for
study. We cannot tweak one parameter, juggle another, and end up with a different system on which to
experiment. We can never know how unique is our universe, for we have no other universe with which to
compare. The universe denotes everything that is or ever will be observable, so that we can never hope to
glimpse another universe.
Nevertheless, we can imagine other possible universes. One could have a universe containing no
galaxies, no stars and no planets. Needless to say, man could not exist in such a universe. The very fact
that our species has evolved on the planet Earth sets significant constraints on the possible ways our
universe has evolved. Indeed, some cosmologists think that this may be the only way we can ever tackle
such questions as why does space have three dimensions, or why does the proton have a mass that is
precisely 1836 times larger than the electron? If neither were the case, we certainly would not be here.
One can take the argument further: our actual existence requires the universe to have had three space
dimensions and the proton mass to be 1836 electron masses. This conclusion is called the anthropic
cosmological principle: namely, that the universe must be congenial to the origin and development of
intelligent life. Of course, it is not an explanation, and the anthropic principle is devoid of any physical
significance. Rather it limits the possibilities. There could be a host of radically different universes that
we need not worry about.
It is inevitable that an astronomer studies objects remote in time as well as in space. Light travels a (1 of 4) [6/21/2003 2:13:24 PM]


distance of 300,000 kilometers in one second, or ten thousand billion kilometers in a year. The nearest
star, Alpha Centauri, is 3 light years from us: we see it as it was three years ago. The nearest galaxy
comparable to our own Milky Way is two million light years distance: we are seeing the Andromeda
galaxy, a naked eye object in a dark sky, as it was when homo sapiens had not yet evolved. A large
telescope is a time-machine that can take us part way to creation, to examine regions from which light
emanated more than five billion years ago, before our sun had ever formed. To a cosmologist, the issue
of creation is inevitable.
There are three possibilities that one may envisage for the creation of the universe.
1. The beginning was a singular state, not describable by physical science. A skeptic might ask, what
did God do before He created the Universe? The apocryphal answer is that He was preparing Hell
for people who might ask such questions (attributed to St. Augustine).
2. The beginning was the most simple and permanent state imaginable, containing within itself the
seeds of future evolution. This is the modern view, and one searches for the correct physical laws
that describe this initial state.
3. There was no creation, and the universe is unchanging and of infinite age. We can try to
distinguish between the latter two possibilities, the only two options on which scientific tools can
be brought to bear. The earlier considerations about the simplicity of a successful theory are
incorporated into a simple principle that serves as a guide for building a model of the universe.
There are various versions of such a cosmological principle.
The cosmological principle states that the universe, on the average, looks the same from any point. It is
motivated by the Copernican argument that the Earth is not in a central, preferred position. If the
universe is locally isotropic, as viewed from any point, hence it is also uniform. So the cosmological
principle states that the universe is approximately isotropic and homogeneous, as viewed by any observer
at rest. This allows the possibility of very different past and future states of the universe.
A stronger version, the perfect cosmological principle, goes further: the universe appears the same from
all points and at all times. In other words, there can have been no evolution: the universe must always
have been in the same state, at least as averaged over long times.
Finally, the anthropic cosmological principle argues that the universe must have been constructed so as to
have led to the development of intelligence.

The darkness of the night sky.

Olbers' paradox is "Why is the sky dark at night?". Olbers (and before him, others) assumed that both
the average space frequency and luminosity of stars (and galaxies) is approximately constant throughout
space and over time. Consider any large shell of matter of radius r and thickness dr. The light from this
shell is 4Pi r^2 dr n L$ where the number of stars per unit volume is n and the luminosity of a star is L.
So the radiation measured at the centre of the shell is n L dr, and does not depend on the radius of the
shell. As we add up the contributions of more and more distant concentric shells (each of equal
thickness), the radiation measured at the centre seems to increase without limit. This is not quite right,
since light from a distant star is intercepted by an intervening star, but we would expect the sky to be
about as brilliant as the surface of a star. Any line of sight must sooner or later run into a star. This
conclusion applies at any arbitrary point, and hence it applies everywhere. (2 of 4) [6/21/2003 2:13:24 PM]


We have a contradiction with the trivial observation that apart from the Milky Way, our own galaxy, the
night sky is remarkably dark. Olbers' paradox is not resolved by allowing for interstellar dust since this
absorbs and radiates energy. Possible resolutions are (A) the universe is young, so stars have only been
shining for about ten billion years, or (B) the universe is of infinite age but expanding so as to avoid a
state of thermodynamic equilibrium. Expansion ``cools off" the universe, due to the Doppler shift (which
reddens light or reduces the energy of photons that are received from a receding source). Of course, the
universe may be both young and expanding, but only hypothesis B requires expansion.

Steady State Cosmology.

The steady state universe (Bondi, Gold, Hoyle 1949) postulates matter creation out of vacuum, so that
the perfect cosmological principle is satisfied (density = const). This postulated was motivated by an
apparent time--scale problem. The universe of galaxies was found to be expanding by Hubble at a
velocity V=H_0*R that increased systematically with galaxy distance R. This means that if there has
been no acceleration or deceleration, all matter must have been piled up at the beginning of the expansion
a time R/V or 1/H_0 ago. H_0 is Hubble's constant and was found to be H_0= 500 km/s Mpc in Hubble's
original work. This means that 1/H_0= 2 billion yr. is an upper limit on the age of the universe.
One may compare this with radioactive dating technique of old rocks, e.g. U-238 -> Pb-205 with half-life
of 4x10^9 yr. Measured for different rock and meteorite samples, the present lead isotope abundances
allow an estimate of age. We infer 4.6x10^9 yr for oldest meteoritic, lunar rocks.
Stellar evolution theory with hydrogen fusion to helium as an energy source yields the age of globular
clusters, the oldest stars in our galaxy. The main sequence turnoff denotes the duration of the observed
era of hydrogen burning, while the horizontal branch (on the HR diagram) indicates the location of
helium burning stars. The inferred age to fit the observed HR diagram is 10x10^9 yr. The discrepancy
between the universal expansion age, on the one hand, and meteoritic and stellar ages on the other hand,
was only removed in the 1950's, when a more accurate value for H_0 emerged. The best modern value is
H_0=50 km/s Mpc, or 1/H_0=20x10^9 yr.
Key predictions of steady state cosmology were that:
1. There was and is creation of one hydrogen atom per cubic metre per 10^10 yr. Creation is assumed
to occur out of the vacuum, radically violating their law of conservation of mass and energy: One
expects antimatter to also be produced, leading to a gamma ray background that results from
occasional annihilations of protons and antiprotons. One does not want to also violate another
fundamental law, namely the law of conservation of electric charge. Hence another possible form
for newly created matter is neutrons. These decay and leave behind hot x-ray emitting gas
pervading the universe. Neither the expected cosmic gamma rays or x-rays were seen, so that the
theory was modified to postulated creation only in dense cores which we identified with the nuclei
of galaxies.
2. No evolution at great distance could have occurred. Radio source counts tested this. N(>f) is the
number observed brighter than flux f, which for a source at distance d luminosity L is given by
f=L/4pi d^2. So the distance to which one can see in a flux-limited survey of sources with identical
L is d=(L/4pi f)^1/2. Now the total number measured in all-- sky survey is N=(4/3)pi d^3n, where
n is the source density. The steady state model predicts that n=constant, so that N(>f) is
proportional to d^3 or (L/f)^3/2, predicting that as the survey sensitivity is increased (or as f is (3 of 4) [6/21/2003 2:13:24 PM]


lowered), then N(>f) should increase as f^{-3/2} in Euclidean space. Observations revealed a
much stronger increase in source counts. Proponents of the steady state model in the 1950s argued
that we might be living in a very local hole. However, subsequent optical identifications and
distance determinations have shown the radio sources primarily to be radio galaxies and quasars
that are several billions of Mpc away from us, demonstrating that evolution must be occurring over
a time--scale of order 10^{10} yr. Luminous radio emitting galaxies were far more frequent in the
past than they are seen to be today.
The final blow to the steady state theory came with the discovery of the cosmic microwave background
in 1964. This was direct evidence of radiation originating in a dense hot phase of the universe, as
predicted by the Big Bang theory. It is characterized by a blackbody spectrum appropriate to a blackbody
at 2.75 degrees Kelvin. The intensity of such a cold blackbody peaks at a wavelength of 1 mm, in the
microwave band. To explain such radiation in a steady state model requires one to postulate the universal
presence of millimeter sized dust grains that would absorb an intense radiation field produced by many
exceptionally luminous galaxies and reradiate it at the appropriate temperature. This interpretation is so
contrived and requires so many special assumptions that it is generally regarded as being highly

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