"Einstein's Greatest Blunder" was REALLY a blunder!

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." -Albert Einstein

Back when Einstein first proposed his theory of General Relativity, his revolutionary picture of the Universe was met with a mix of curiosity, awe, and intense skepticism. It isn't every day that your most cherished of all physical theories -- the theory of Newtonian Gravity that had ruled the cosmos for nearly two-and-a-half centuries -- gets challenged by a newcomer.

Image credit: Brooks/Cole - Thomson publishing, 2005. Image credit: Brooks/Cole - Thomson publishing, 2005.

And yet, that's exactly what Einstein did when he proposed General Relativity at the end of 1915, nearly a century ago. Newtonian gravity, according to Einstein, was just an illusion. Objects didn't really exert gravitational forces on one another, which in turn caused accelerations/changes in momentum, but rather the entire Universe existed in a framework known as spacetime, and the presence of matter-and-energy curved the fabric of that spacetime, causing objects to move as they do.

Image credit: WGBH Boston, retrieved from http://www.ast.cam.ac.uk/. Image credit: WGBH Boston, retrieved from http://www.ast.cam.ac.uk/.

Einstein's theory not only reduced to Newtonian gravity when gravitational fields were weak, it also predicted the orbital anomaly of Mercury, something that had puzzled astronomers and physicists alike for nearly 50 years. When the 1919 eclipse was observed, and distant starlight was observed to have bent in agreement with General Relativity (and not in agreement with any interpretation of Newton's laws), our picture of the Universe was revolutionized.

Image credit: 22 November 1919 edition of the Illustrated London News. Image credit: 22 November 1919 edition of the Illustrated London News.

Before any of this happened, however, Einstein was very much bothered by an aspect of his theory. You see, it was assumed at the time that the Universe was made up of stars, whose distribution was relatively uniform throughout space. This was furthermore assumed to be stable, and not something that had either changed much with time or that was likely to change into the far future. The stars were assumed to be long-lived, and evenly distributed around us in all directions.

Image credit: Bill Keel of University of Alabama, via http://www.astr.ua.edu/. Image credit: Bill Keel of University of Alabama, via http://www.astr.ua.edu/.

In general, this type of solution presented a grave problem for Einstein: it is an unstable solution! If you have a roughly (but not perfectly) uniform distribution of matter, then spacetime is going to curve due to the presence of that matter. And once spacetime is curved, those regions with slightly more matter than others are going to preferentially attract more and more matter, and will grow over time!

What's even worse is that the fate of all such configurations of mass like this, regardless of what shape they start off in, wind up creating a black hole!

Image credit: "Black Holes: Portals into the Unknown", © 1997-2001 Benjamin, via http://library.thinkquest.org/. Image credit: "Black Holes: Portals into the Unknown", © 1997-2001 Benjamin, via http://library.thinkquest.org/.

This clearly isn't the case for our Universe! And Einstein knew this wasn't the case for our Universe, so what was actually happening?

The laws of gravity weren't lying, but there must've been something that wasn't properly accounted for. As far as Einstein could tell, stars pretty much stayed where they were over time, and extended out maybe on the order of thousands of light-years in all directions. Because they weren't all collapsing towards a point or region, Einstein reasoned that there had to be something fighting gravity on these large, interstellar scales.

Image credit: Natalie Roe for the SNAP collaboration, via http://snap.lbl.gov/. Image credit: Natalie Roe for the SNAP collaboration, via http://snap.lbl.gov/.

He proposed that there was an intrinsic energy to space itself, a cosmological constant, responsible for this. This cosmological constant would push back with exactly the force needed to counteract gravity on these large scales, and would lead to the Universe being static.

Now, we can fast-forward almost 100 years, to our modern picture of the Universe.

Image credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration. Image credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration.

The Universe is not, in fact, static, but has been expanding for billions of years. What Einstein missed is that our Universe extends far beyond our own galaxy, and in fact contains many hundreds of billions of galaxies comparable to our own. This wasn't discovered observationally until years after General Relativity was proposed, so Einstein could hardly be faulted, and yet he was frustrated at himself for not finding the solution in General Relativity that admits an expanding Universe. Perhaps apocryphally, he's credited with calling his introduction of the cosmological constant his "greatest blunder."

Had he found the solutions later found by Friedmann, Lemaitre, Robertson and Walker, he might have proposed that the Universe was expanding, and never suggested the ad hoc cosmological constant at all.

Image credit: S. Perlmutter et al. (Supernova Cosmology Project). Image credit: S. Perlmutter et al. (Supernova Cosmology Project).

And yet, since the late 1990s, we've realized that the Universe does in fact have a non-zero cosmological constant: that's what we call dark energy, and use to explain the accelerated expansion of the Universe!

Image credit: NASA. Image credit: NASA.

You might think that, because the cosmological constant does turn out to exist, and be non-zero, and because there is an intrinsic energy to space itself, that perhaps Einstein didn't make a mistake after all.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In physics, we propose novel theoretical mechanisms to both explain observed phenomena and to predict new, hitherto unobserved phenomena. That's what theoretical physics is all about.

And I hate to break it to you, but Einstein's cosmological constant utterly failed on both of those counts.

Image credit: Sheldon Faworski and Sean Walker, via http://www.astropix.com/. Image credit: Sheldon Faworski and Sean Walker, via http://www.astropix.com/.

Not only did he not successfully explain why the stars in our galaxy remain in a roughly stable configuration -- because they're in quasi-stable orbits around the galaxy -- but he also failed to predict the phenomena of the expanding Universe.

Had he gone with the expanding Universe solution instead of the cosmological constant solution to the problem of a Universe that hadn't yet collapsed into a black hole, that would've been correct.

Image credit: retrieved from http://izquotes.com/. Image credit: retrieved from http://izquotes.com/.

Einstein, to his great credit, was smart enough to admit to himself, and to the world, that his solution was not the right one.

Even today, looking back and recognizing that there is, in fact, a cosmological constant / dark energy component to the Universe, Einstein was still wrong!

It isn't enough to get the right answer in physics, or in science in general. You need to get the right answer for the right reasons, otherwise you are doomed to lead yourself astray.

Image credit: Sean Carroll via Steve Hsu of http://infoproc.blogspot.com/. Image credit: Sean Carroll, via Steve Hsu of http://infoproc.blogspot.com/.

The cosmological constant may have come back, but it has nothing to do with the reasons Einstein proposed for its existence, nor is it of anywhere near the same magnitude that Einstein suggested. Sometimes old ideas come back in new forms to solve new puzzles.

Why do I tell you this? Because it's tempting to revise history, to make our heroes even more heroic and to give them credit for discoveries that they themselves did not make. It's also all too easy to fool ourselves, and to discount our own actual mistakes because there was a somewhat-related success down the road.

Image credit: European Space Agency. Image credit: European Space Agency.

It's okay to be wrong; being wrong is evidence that you were trying, and also evidence that you were honest with yourself. The important thing is to get it right in the end. We're going to be wrong about an awful lot of things going forward; of that I'm certain.

What will separate those of us who are good scientists about it will be our willingness to let go of ideas that no longer agree with the data, admit we were wrong, and embrace the theoretical ideas that are in accord with what we observe. We may even wind up reviving old ideas and finding new ways that they apply to our Universe as we learn more about it. (It doesn't mean the old ideas were right all along, though!)

This is science, where every day we come a little closer to getting it right. Thanks for coming along on the journey with me.

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Thanks for taking the time so explain things like this to us. I would never have heard about most of your topics unless I took some astrophysics classes myself. That's not where my life is going, but I am so happy to have an avenue to learn things like this, so again, thank you so very much Ethan! Lead onward!!!

A very nice overview.

By Andrew Hall (not verified) on 17 May 2013 #permalink

Why Λ/3 rather than just Λ?


Great post!

By Filip Radulovic (not verified) on 17 May 2013 #permalink

Excellent post!

By Kenny A. Chaffin (not verified) on 17 May 2013 #permalink

Excellent post indeed! Thanks for making it understandable even to me, a biologist (grin).

This aspect of the culture of science is what makes me tear up every time I see the standing ovation at the astronomy conference for the astronomers who had published some (can't remember what it was) stupendous discovery just before the conference, only to realize they were in error just in time to announce the mistake at the conference. Gets me every time.

Great explanation. The most lucid and understandable I've read about this complex topic so far.

I would just like to address this sentence:
"And yet, since the late 1990s, we’ve realized that the Universe does in fact have a non-zero cosmological constant: that’s what we call dark energy, and use to explain the accelerated expansion of the Universe!"

As far as I know, the debate is still on if Lambda is in fact DE. If taken at face value there's a HUGE issue of value it takes. And I haven't come across solid theories of lambda really being DE.

Other than that.. great job again! :)

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 18 May 2013 #permalink


Thank you for that comment. I had no idea that what your perception of the situation is was a common one; I think this will absolutely require a follow-up post on the Big Crunch, the Big Rip, and the nature of dark energy.

Very interesting and readable.

A coincidence. Mario Livio has a book on science blunders, and this issue is discussed. He mentions that he found no record of Einstein himself ever saying or writing that this was his biggest blunder, so your tentative mention of that event seems to be spot on in terms of caution.

Thanks for this. I hate it when people want to retro-actively make a mistake into a success just because it turned out to have some tangential relationship to reality. The most annoying case was recently when the (public's) discovery of epigenetics made everyone start saying that Lamarckianism was right after all. Compared to that saying Einstein was right after all is nearly justified -- but only in comparison.

Though I think one does have to give Einstein credit for creating a framework in General Relativity that so easily accommodated a non-zero vacuum energy.

Good blog Ethan. I'm a bit of an Einstein fan, but when challenged on this sort of thing I just have to roll over and say he got an F for cosmology. I can't quite understand it. In his Leyden Address he described a gravitational field as inhomogeneous space, and his stress-energy tensor features pressure. It's as if he didn't believe in his own theory, and/or his usual confidence deserted him. If only they had stress balls back then.

Mind you, I think there are other blunders out there, and other examples of people fooling themselves. Take a look at the cosmological constant article on wiki, and you'll see that Λ is "equivalent to an energy density in otherwise empty space". Then look at Lambda-CDM and note that "The model uses the FLRW metric". Then look at the that and note "The FLRW metric starts with the assumption of homogeneity and isotropy of space". Bad move. Because if you assume the energy density of space is homogeneous, you're ignoring what Einstein said a gravitational field is, and dooming yourself to spending twenty years down a mine looking for WIMPs that just aren't there. The fine-structure constant isn't constant. So why do people assume that the cosmological constant is constant? They know about the raisins-in-the cake expansion and conservation of energy. And that "the energy of the gravitational field shall act gravitatively in the same way as any other kind of energy". They also know that energy has a mass-equivalence. And that space is dark. And there's a lot of it about.

By John Duffield (not verified) on 18 May 2013 #permalink

@9 Ethan

Not sure Big Rip and Crunch are needed. If I remember, you did several good posts on that some time ago. But the nature of DE would be good.

What I meant to say (maybe wasn't clear enough), is that if you say DE is in fact cosm. constant, this needs much further defending on your part. I was mainly talking about the value QM places on vacuum energy, and the value from cosmology. 10^-120 issue and all that. That's what I meant when I said I don't know of any theoretical work that firmly solves this rather big issue.
Also wiki states problems in the appearance of solutions with regions of discontinuities (I admit I don't understand all of it).
I do agree that at the moment, from things we know, lambda is the only thing that seems to at least fit into DE ballpark. Am just disagreeing with a statement that from late 90's Λ=DE, in a settled way.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 18 May 2013 #permalink

The physics content of this post is deeply flawed. Ethan claims that a homogeneous universe that Is momentarily not expanding, is a fine static solution, but that it is unstable against inhomogeneous perturbations. And so Einstein added a cosmological constant to make it stable against those perturbations.

This is a totally wrong!

The correct thing is the following: a static universe made only of matter is NOT A SOLUTION, despite Ethan's claims. Such a universe, if it is temporarily at rest as an initial condition, will collapse. So Einstein added the cosmological constant to prevent collapse of the HOMOGENEOS universe.

It was a blunder because this new static arrangement, with the cosmological constant, was unstable against perturbations, which is the exact opposite of Ethan's claim.

Yes Einstein made a great blunder.

As well, apparently everyone since Einstein is also blundering; because there was no generally accepted explanation of "Dark Energy observations."

But Einstein's greatest blunder is right up there with only a few other great blunders. Whenever, the "dark energy observations" are understood; few blunders besides Einstein's greatest blunder will be worthy of being remembered.

because there was no generally accepted explanation of “Dark Energy observations.”

What on earth are you blithering on about here? What do you mean (especially when "scare quoted") by "Dark Energy observations"???

"This is a totally wrong!"

'fraid not, bob, or should I call you "kate"?

But I suspect you already knew that, but love the appearance of your proclomatory prose on the screen.

I didn't realize that my quotes were scary.

"In physical cosmology and astronomy, dark energy is a hypothetical form of energy." wikipedia


"Electromagnetic radiation (EM radiation or EMR) is a form of energy emitted and absorbed by charged particles which exhibits wave-like behavior as it travels through space." wikipedia

The way I've viewed this, is that Einstein gets credit for looking in roughly the right direction, even though in the end he was wrong and for the wrong reasons. But in order to have the capacity to make correct guesses, you have to have the capacity to make incorrect guesses, and I can't fault someone for saying "something doesn't quite work here, let's patch it until we know more."


Re. geometry of the universe:

Jacob Barnett, 14-year-old Ph.D. student who is reported to be smarter than Einstein, has said in an interview, that some of our basic astrophysics today is wrong. He explained that according to his calculations, the amount of carbon in the universe is inconsistent with existing models, and that it suggests a universe that's 21 billion years old, so something about our theories needs to be adjusted. Barnett also said that his math indicates that spacetime is curved rather than flat (from the diagram he drew, it appears he means positively curved).

Question is, what do y'all working scientists here think of that?, and if Barnett is right, what do you think will have to be adjusted?


Know what's exciting (from the layperson perspective)? The feeling that the era of paradigm-changing basic theories continues in our lifetime.

When I was a little kid, the general public were just beginning to adjust to Einsteinian relativity. (I remember thinking of it like this in elementary school: OK, now we know that time contracts as speed increases, there's an equation for that, and we can use it when we build faster space ships in the 21st century.)

When I was in college in the 80s, quantum theory was still felt to be "weird stuff," though by now it seems that the public's view of the universe has more or less adjusted (e.g. we think of entanglement as normal, and we can make analogies such as getting encrypted email but having to wait for the decryption key to be delivered via postal mail). With all that, it seemed that we were on track for a pretty comprehensive understanding of nature, even if we didn't have the means to apply it yet. And finally, the announcement of the Higgs particle was the missing piece to fill in the Standard Model, and "all's well for the universe."

Now along comes Barnett, and if his work holds up, we might be in for another shake-up. On one hand it's inconvenient that a decent chunk of what we think we know may become obsolete in a decade or so. But on the other hand, every time that happens, nature turns out to be a heck of a lot more interesting than we expected.

Question is, what do y’all working scientists here think of that?, and if Barnett is right, what do you think will have to be adjusted?

Errors I've seen in the same calculation of "Carbon ratios are wrong" have included:

1) Nucleosynthesis in stars using an incorrect or outdated formula.
2) "Forgetting" that there are isotopes of carbon and decay from higher weight atoms.
3) Getting the ratio of Carbon in the universe we can see wrong.

My personal position, absent detailed analysis, is that if his assertions were correct, that we'd probably have to change stellar evolution more than we'd have to change the age of the universe.

Remember: the age of the universe can be different depending on what you're looking at, and that these have had to be changed before. The changes were accommodated without having to throw away or overhaul some science.

I didn’t realize that my quotes were scary.

Was that an attempt at being lighthearted? If so, then this will be uncalled for.

Before you make yourself a frigging idiot again, go look up what "scare quotes" means. Though since you don't even know what sentence structure means or how to extract context from plain English, this will be nearly impossible for you to internalise.

I did not say your words were scary, I said you were putting words in "scare quotes".

Do you think that the change in participants in that arrangement was made up on a whim? Because that would be incorrect.

Wow re. 20: Excellent, thanks. I'd guess that if he's made an error it's #1, incorrect or outdated formula for nucleosynthesis.

When he came up with his theory on this, he hadn't been in school (college or Ph.D. program) long enough to have gotten a lot of the material that students normally pick up along the way, so that makes it more likely that he could have accidentally picked up outdated info from his own independent efforts at self-teaching.

Yes, I recall some changes in the estimated age of the universe, one of them quite recent, that I vaguely remember was a few percent or so. I don't see that as paradigm-changing either, it's basically fine-tuning.

All in all, it would be preferable to not have to throw out a good lot of what we know, because other knowledge is built on it that we use in various ways, even philosophically and in terms of describing the premises for reasoning about issues in ethics. For example I don't think of Newtonian physics as having been thrown out, but rather that it's now seen to be limited to a specific range of phenomena and conditions, beyond which Einsteinian relativity applies, and so on with the limits of Einstein and the domain of quantum theory.

As for philosophical/ethical implications, witness the debate over free will. If superdeterminism is correct, then free will is illusory, and ethical systems built on the premise of free will are instantly obsolete. One of the implications of which is in criminal justice: that criminals truly have no choice, so there is no basis for moral evaluation of criminal acts, and the purpose of incarceration shifts to nothing more than confinement to protect the public.

(I believe that superdeterminism is not correct, and that randomicity at the smallest scales has effects that propagate to larger scales of time and measurement, thus free will remains intact, and moral weighting of actions is possible. If someone comes up with a means of predicting the decay of radioactive materials such that the timing of every click on a Geiger counter can be predicted precisely, then I'll chuck my beliefs about that and update accordlngly;-)

(Apologies in advance for sloppy wording here, I'm doing this on a break from work, so I'm task-shifting, which according to recent findings causes a transient 15% drop in IQ in male humans.)

" If superdeterminism is correct, then free will is illusory, and ethical systems built on the premise of free will are instantly obsolete."

Free will may be best summed up as "at a whim". It is given some agency because we do that with everything. Why couldn't we be doing the same with ourselves?

"so there is no basis for moral evaluation of criminal acts, and the purpose of incarceration shifts to nothing more than confinement to protect the public."

Or that we had no choice in the matter of keeping them locked up.


We shoot rabid dogs. We incarcerate people who are insane. Even though in both cases we freely admit that this is "not their fault".

When it comes to criminal justice, the best view of sentencing in my opinion is regret. Regret that this turns out to be necessary.

Not anger at their choice of free willed action. Not disgust at what they decided to do.

Regret that the recourse left to undertake is the incarceration or elimination of the one who did this.

Thx. Good stuff. You really do nice work. I'd sure like to learn the math necessary to understand theo phy at some reasonable level. I imagine it's exceedingly difficult, probably a real b____ to learn. Maybe when I retire next year. My hat's off to you mathematicians a d physicists. Hardest intellectual endeavor there is.

By Andy Eppink (not verified) on 20 May 2013 #permalink

What would you suggest taking beyond complex variables etc. to get a reasonable handle on contemporary physics?

By Andy Eppink (not verified) on 20 May 2013 #permalink

Andy Eppink,

I am not a physicist, so you may take this with a bit of a grain of salt. My understanding of modern physics would lead me to say that you'd probably want to study tensorial calculus and non-Euclidean (Riemannian) geometry at the very least as a starting point. Probably some courses in partial differential equations, including Fourier analysis would not hurt either for enhancing your understanding of quantum mechanics. Good luck, as you've correctly surmised (and coming from someone who's only got a partial handle on these branches of math) it's not an easy endeavor.

"When it comes to criminal justice, the best view of sentencing in my opinion is regret. Regret that this turns out to be necessary..."

Well said.

By Angel Gabriel (not verified) on 21 May 2013 #permalink

Well, Einstein at least had the foresight to see the problem, but he didn't yet have the science to take the next step.
So for what he knew, how could you fault him?
For example, a hundred years from now we may know more about the existence of extra dimensions that may explain a lot of what we don't know, which will then be child's play.
I'll still take Einstein to the bank!

By josephberk md (not verified) on 27 Jun 2013 #permalink


No, Einstein didn't "forsee the problem". Einstein added the cosmological constant to solve a problem that did not exist. The field equations of GR that he developed indicated that a static universe could be a solution, but an unstable one. A good analogy to this is a physical system consisting of a steel ball sitting atop a hill. It is possible that the ball can sit right on top of the hill and not move either way. This is not a stable solution, however, since a small peturbation of the ball will cause it to roll down the hill one way or another.

In similar fashion, in Einstein's equations, a static universe was a valid solution, but an unstable one. Since Einstein "knew" that the universe must be static, he added the cosmological constant to make this static solution a stable one. Observational evidence showed that Einstein indeed blundered in all of this, namely in his insistence upon a static universe. Newer evidence has shown that the universal expansion is accelerating, so we've reintroduced the cosmological constant, but for a different reason. Therefore, Einstein was still wrong; based on the evidence at his disposal, there was no need for a cosmological constant.

Einstein was certainly a great physicist, but too many people overestimate him. He was a genius, but he certainly was wrong on this, and on many other occasions as well. That's not to impugn him. He was a human, after all, and we are all wrong sometimes.

Kahjuks ka autor: teeb VEA, väites heuristiliselt, et "mitte mingisugused Newtoni teooria mudelid ei suuda seletada valguskiire paindumist gravitatsiooniväljas!?
1. ET seletada Maailma - peame LÄHTUMA (eeldama!) kaugmõju printsiipi: ja sellest lähtuvat Aegruumi (eelnevat) korrastatust ja orientatsiooni (mitte lähimõjuna "ülekantavaid mõjuosakesi!?).
2. Galilei-Newtoni esitatud liikumisteisendus (sihil v/x) - on jäävalt tõene, kuid isegi selle tõendas "üle" : "Terrell pööramine", aastal 1959.
Millegipärast (?!) ei ole seda edasi vaadeldud (just nimelt erirelatiivsusteooria heuristika tõttu!) mudelina, milles nn. relatiivse ruumi "teisenduskonstant L - kui LOrentz-tegur" - saab vaadelda teisendusfunktsiooni f (ct) = ct(1 - (v/c)cosa); "laotuses Cartesiuse ristkoordinaadistikus (tasandil xy)" kui: {x´= x - vt; y´= ky;} - kusjuures k = 1/L = G(Terrellil!).
Millegipärast seletatakse see FAKT lahti kui "optiline illusioon" - kuid matemaatiliselt lahtiseletades on see teooria, milles "nihutatud nurk arcsina" - on seesama (nii Lorentz-teisendusel kui ka G-N teisdendusfunktsioonist f tulerneval!) ABERRATSIOONINURK: sin(a´) = (ky)/(ct)´.

By Tõnu Eevere (not verified) on 22 Sep 2013 #permalink

Scientist what a joke - they claim that all started with a Big Bang we have 12 year old Math genius that has proven it was impossible - We have Steven Hawkins saying quote '' Before the Big there was nothing but for the Big Bang to happen it needed Iron'' What a prat where did the Iron come from - We have today being used in ALL Western Schools 21st Century History Biology books that Evolution is a Fact and they point discoveries such as Lucy fossil , Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, Ota Benga, Java Man - Pekin Man, The Taung Child , Australopithecines and Ardi ALL proven to be hoaxes that right ALL HOAXES

So get real people stop trying to replace God with idiots in White Coats - And no people I'm not a religious Fanatic just a person that can look at ALL the facts that is not clouded with prejudice............The Majority of our Scientist are Cloned Prats

And we have a pratt here who thinks that this sort of codswallop will be swallowed here.

Sorry, Seamy, try over at some gullible idiot hideout.

I guess you lack intelligence - Do the Research - Seamus is right they have all been proven to be hoaxes - And he also right about Scientists To many play god and do not care about the consequences - To Many are placed on pedestals and to many of us accept without question that they are Right until the harm is done and they come out with a new theory and carry on as if nothing has happened - From Newton to Einstein Man has followed blindly - It was Einstein that first instigated the Atom bomb and look were that has taken us - but we all like to look at his 'genius' and ignore the truth - To Seamus I agree with every thing that you state - Education should be about truth not brain washing

Black, why would you guess wrong like that?

You need to read up on what happened with Piltdown man, etc. because as it is you're woefully lacking in knowledge of the scenario.

Then again, you're probably not wanting to know the truth since what you've heard accords with what you think is going on.

Hint for you: your god does not exist.

@ Seamus and Black

you guys forgot your valium pills or something? Notice the sign at the door.. it says "starts with a bang" ... not "starts with a cross".

Please be so kind and take your religious beliefs to a religion blog. Science doesn't deal with deities.

To quote a wise man: "The Bible teaches us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens move" - Galileo then John Paul II (in 1979)

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 24 Sep 2013 #permalink

@ Sinisa Lazarek Learn some True Science The Shu University has proven The universe - that there was no beginning or end, just alternating periods of expansion and contraction. In fact, Shu shows that singularities such as the Big Bang cannot exist in this cosmos Further Hawkins has now supported Shu........... idiot
@ Wow Piltdown Man scandal is arguably the greatest scientific fraud ever perpetrated it has been proven beyond doubt that it was made up of chimp and human bones less than 200 years old - Learn to read Facts and try to move away from colouring books Idiot

I suggest you have an annual Idiot Tea Party and invite Sinisa Lazarek as guess speak your audience of idiots needs a comedienne........... Wow!!!!!!!!! Idiot

"@ Sinisa Lazarek Learn some True Science "

Yeah, 'cos if you aren't agreenig with Seamy, you must be using False Science (tm). ::Rolleyes::

"@ Wow Piltdown Man scandal is arguably the greatest scientific fraud ever perpetrated"

Yeah, morons (especially Merkin Exceptionalism morons) argue that all the time.

They don't really know what happened, only that "Teh sciemtists gut it rung".

Seamus, you do realize that much of the scientific community doubted the validity of Piltdown man from the start, and it was scientific investigation that verified the fraud, correct? You do realize that scientific knowledge advances as better techniques are developed, and that it is a benefit of the scientific method that it self-corrects?
Your inane babblings about the big bang having been falsified are just that: ignorant babblings, without validity. You mistake fluff reporting and crackpot research with valid work.

I'm not sure why you chose the tea party as your insult: the uninformed buffoons who inhabit that right wing group tend to believe the stuff you say - creationist mythology - rather than anything related to science. If you believe they are idiotic you are, in truth, describing your fellow believers.

Of course he doesn't, since that was omitted from his original indoctrination and since it accords with his preconceptions of how teh siemce is wrong, no further input is accepted on the subject.


Also, who the heck is this "Hawkin" guy you refer to? Also, I am unfamiliar with Shu university. However, if they really did "prove" the cyclic universe model as you claim, then there would be some observed evidence that can only be accounted for by a cyclic universe. AFAIK (and someone can correct me if I'm wrong) there is no evidence that would only be explained by a cyclic universe.

BTW, science never "proves" anything. We gather evidence and propose models that fit that evidence, make predictions using those models and test those predictions with more observations. If the model fits known evidence and correctly predicts new observation, it becomes the scientific consensus. New evidence contrary to the model will lead to modification or outright rejection of that model.

That's how science works. Even if HAWKING (not Hawkin, whoever he is) agrees with those at Shu, so what? Hawking (and those at Shu) might just be wrong. It happens to the best scientists. Even if they are right, however, their ideas are speculative and contrary to existing scientific consensus. The burden of proof is on them to provide evidence that they are right. It is not up to the rest of the scientific community to show that they are wrong.

@DEAN the tea party I referred to was a monkey's tea Party not Political you inferred that...Idiot
@Wow“Teh sciemtists gut it rung”.......... learn to spell Wow you really are an idiot
@ Sean ,,,,, unfamiliar with Shu university..... say it all

I bored have a nice day - now go and learn some real science and make sure mammy tuck you in at night and don't wet the bed..........Idiots

the only results that show up when "Shu University" is searched for are
Seton Hall University
Sheffield Hallum University

and others with the abbreviations SHU. To what woo-touting institution do you refer, or is it (as is your version of reality) all in your mind?

@ dean you are useless - I guess are one of those clone scientist - You wait until some else does the real work including research and then you the idiot jump on the wagon and try to get some of the spotlight - Strange I can get all the research and info and details that I go looking for including Shu - still I understand your just another idiot that is lost in a white coat - Sorry folks no more interaction with this cut and paste site - Dean learn to research idiot

Three. One to change the bulb, two to discuss how long the old one was hanging there.

One, but it takes 8 million years.

Do you want to talk about this?

Funding for a new light bulb ran out six months ago - will have to borrow from their parents.

Research technicians:
One, but it’ll probably take him/her three or four tries to get it right.

Post-doctoral fellows:
One, but it’ll probably take three or four tries to get it right because he/she will probably give it to the technician to do.

Theoretical physicists:
Eleven. One does the job, ten join as co-authors.

Nuclear engineers:
One to install the bulb and six to figure out what to do with the old bulb for the next ten thousand years

@Dean @Sean T @Wow
None “Bright light - hurts... must go back to bed”

Seamus is right your idiots and dean You should be ashamed when you cannot do simple research – I found it first go.............here's a clue ................你是白痴 ............

That right I speak several languages and I never come a cross a more closed minded bunch of idiots than I read on this site – I too am out of here........'Cut and Paste' perfect description..........Idiots

Hi Seamus and Black,

You may not be aware, since you're new here, that this site has a comments policy. Check it out: http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/comments-policy/

You may want to consider adhering to it. I am not PopSci; you are free to comment here, but only according to the rules I've laid out.

I moderate.

And I ban.

So watch it.

Black and Seamus,

First of all, I was unfamiliar with "Shu university" with good reason. There is no such university on the face of the earth. I am assuming that what Seamus really meant was referencing the work of Wun-Yi Shu at National Tsing Hua university in Taiwan. So first of all, if you're going to call other people idiots, it would behoove you to have your facts straight to begin with.

Now, on to Shu's idea (note for those who want to call others idiots: Shu is a person, not a university). Shu claims that he can explain the accelerated expansion of the universe with his model better than the big bang can. That may be the case, but he postulates changing values of c and G to do so. If you are going to postulate changing values of fundamental constants, you are not automatically wrong, but you do need EVIDENCE that these constants actually change. It shouldn't be too hard to find such evidence if you're right: the values of c and G are fundamental to many physical processes. For instance, atomic transitions are affected directly by c. If c changes there should be observable changes in the spectra of distant astronomical objects. Changing G would also affect models of stellar and solar system formation, which do seem to work quite well with constant G. Again, Shu may be right, but he needs to present evidence. Extraordinary claims such as his require extraordinary evidence.

Further, the limited reading about Shu's ideas that I've done points out the areas where his model might well be better than the big bang, but that's cherry picking. How about areas where the big bang is superior? For instance, how does Shu account for the abundances of the light nucleotides? BB does this quite nicely. How does Shu account for the cosmic microwave background? BB requires this.

Overall, it's quite possible that Shu is on to something. However, it's ridiculous and insulting to call people idiots when they insist on seeing evidence for these claims. People who cannot get simple facts correct, such as the name of a prominent physicist and the fact that Shu is a person and not a university might well want to take a good long look in the mirror before they start insulting others.

We will make a new approach for an effect known as “Dark Energy” by an effect on gravitational field.

In an accelerated rocket, the dimensions of space towards movement due to ‘Lorentz Contraction’ are on continuous reduction.

Using the equivalence principle, we presume that in the gravitational field, the same thing would happen.

In this implicates in ‘dark energy effect’. The calculi show that in a 7%-contraction for each billion years would explain our observation of galaxies in accelerated separation.

Lorentz Contraction

If we suppose that gravitational field contracts the space around it (including everything within), we can explain the accelerated separation from galaxy through this contraction without postulating ‘dark energy’.

The contraction of space made by gravity would cause a kind of ‘illusion of optic’, seem like, as presented below, that galaxies depart fastly.

The contraction of space would be equivalent to relativistic effect which occurs in a special nave in high-speed L.M.: With regard to an observer in an inertial referential stopped compared to a nave, the observer and everything is on it, including own nave, has its dimension contracted towards to movement of nave compared to a stopped observer (Lorentz Contraction).

This means that the ‘rule’ (measuring instruments) within the nave is smaller than the observer outside of moving nave.

The consequence is, with this ‘reduced rule’, this moving observer would measure things bigger than the observer would measure out of nave.

An accelerated rocket and its continuous contraction

In the same way, if we think of an accelerated increasing speed rocket, its length towards movement – compared to an inertial reference - will be smaller, and 'rule' within the nave will decrease continuously compared to this observer.

We would think of 'equivalence principle' to justify that gravitational field would have the same effect on 'rules' (measuring instruments) as an accelerated rocket would do within the nave, but, now, towards all gravitational field and not, in the case of rocket, only at acceleration speed.

I.e., the gravitational field would make that all rules within this field would be continuously smaller regarded to an observer outside of gravitational field and this would make, as we can see, these observers see things out of field be away fastly.

Anyway, even if “equivalence principle” can’t be applied into a gravitational field to show that the space is contracting around it, we can take it as a new effect on gravitational fields and this would explain the 'dark energy effect'.

The “dark energy” through gravitational contraction:

Let’s think what would happen if a light emitted by a star from a distant galaxy would arrive into our planet:

Our galaxy, as well as distant galaxies, would be in continuous contraction, as seen before, due to gravity.

A photon emitted by a star from this distant galaxy, after living its galaxy, would go through by an “empty” big space, without so much gravitational influence, until finally arrives into our galaxy and, lastly, to our planet.

During this long coursed way (sometimes billion years), this photon would suffer few gravitational effect and its wavelength would be little affected.

However, during this period, our system (our rules) would still decreasing due to gravitational field, and when this photon finally arrives here, we would measure its wavelength with a reduced ‘rule’ compared to what we had had at the moment when this photon was emitted from galaxy.

So, in our measurement would verify if this photon had suffered Redshift because, with reduced rule, we would measure a wavelength longer than those was measured. The traditional explanation is “Shift for Red” happened due to Doppler Effect compared to galaxy separation speed!

End of Dark Energy

Farthest a galaxy is from viewpoint, more time this light will take to arrive us and more shrunken our ‘rule’ will be to measure this photon since it had been emitted; so it would be bigger than wavelength, which would induce us to think of faster galaxy separation speed.

This acceleration (this new explanation, only visible) from distant galaxies took astronomers to postulate the existence of a “Dark Energy” would have a repulsive effect, seems like they are getting away faster.

But if acceleration is due to our own scale reduction, this dark energy wouldn’t be necessary anymore, because what makes this separation accelerated is, actually, our own special contraction. This would be the end of dark energy.

By joao carlos Ba… (not verified) on 09 Oct 2013 #permalink

You know, it's obvious Einstein said this if others are beginning to question whether he said this or not. So why the question in the first place, as to whether or not he actually said this? Allow me to explain...

For the longest time I have said the Universe is Expanding and Accelerating, only to have scientists tell me I'm dead wrong, only to find out in the end I was right as an Intuitive Scientist.

This question is coming up now about Einstein because they are learning that when he said this, he did so because all he other scientists were against him on this topic of his so-called greatest blunder when in fact he had no further way of proving it beyond the point of evidence he had obtained in his math thus far. Given the state of fame he had obtained to that point, he may have seen it as shooting himself in the foot to continue to make a stand on anti-gravity or dark matter holding up the bodies in space, so he let it go and said he was wrong; while knowing full well he was right but unable to prove it thus further at that time like many of his other works not yet published for the same reasons. Yes, this is despite certain agencies already trying to make his obscure science work, with some success I might add!

So to answer the question as to why this question is floating around in the air and why anyone would dare choose to write entire papers and blogs as to whether or not he actually said this with no real way of proving it while Einstein is no longer alive to give us a "yes" or "no" answer is simply this;

That they are now realizing he was right in his science and his-so-called blunder they rejected ages ago as well as in the recent distant past is actually turning out to be true - that's why!

They were wrong again and he, the lone scientist who was supposedly wrong about the cosmic constant, and anti-gravity, and other aspects of general relativity and its exceptions... that's right, exceptions the same as in thermodynamics with entropy... was actually right - again!

In short, we cannot see everything and therefore we cannot at this time (which Einstein knew back then), clearly understand everything right now that we wish we could, about much of the universe as well as his work that is published as well as that which remains to be unpublished.

A much more interesting paper would be on the one student at Harvard University from Alabama that has a brain that is most like Einstein's than anyone we know of in the entire world, with the frontal lobe split, and a thickened Corpus Callosum just like Einstein had, not to mention the thickness at some of the same points as Einstein's brain did after it was taken from his body without permission.

I know that student extremely well. It is a female student nonetheless which I find to be humorous. Yes, I say this topic is much more interesting indeed!

In Conclusion

Sure, Einstein likely said it but it is being questioned because they do not want to be the same offspring with the same simple mindsets as the scientists of old who said he was wrong but once again only to find THEY were wrong - as usual.

We might get faster results if scientists would just spend more time trying to debunk what the lone scientists says in an attempt to prove her or him wrong as in Henrietta Leavitt having been right in measurement accuracies. At least this way, we will find they're right most often I'm sure. Then we might utilize the information and move on as opposed to trying endlessly to prove yourselves right; only to learn you're wrong again as usual.

Hint: Newton did not have his head in a book, math on the board, or a movie on the screen of someone else's work who DID receive the recognition you dream of ... He was sitting under a tree!

There's nothing wrong with being educated, but my guesses about the universe and what's going on out there are always dead on the money and more accurate than many long drawn out, resource sucking, time wasting, painful research on topics that usually lead to a dead end. Science is not that hard so stop making it look impossible and taking far too long to make discoveries as if you're working so hard - work smarter! THINK! Books do not make you smart, observing and thinking outside the box is what finds and makes discoveries guys and gals of science! My guesses are better than yours with 9 out of 10 accuracy - Come on!

So let's make a deal, I guess, and you do the math!
That way at least you will get that recognition for sure because I could care less - I just want that monthly vacation on another planet before I die so I'm definitely not against you. Just trying to get you fired up enough to see the cosmos differently. If a janitor can make one of the greatest finds in science, what does that tell you!

Think 'Good Will Hunting'. We are out there so stop flattering yourself and get to work!

Your way? Years and years of frustration until finally you accidentally find something noteworthy. It's not a bad thing to be educated, but your fancy education means nothing unless you actually put it to some real use and make real discoveries.

My Way?
Ask me about black holes, the emergence of our universe as well as new ones that are forthcoming that you will miss if not looking in the right place. Ask me about wormholes, and white holes as well as other things and I would surprise you.

I have the intuition, my friends do the math despite me having had the capacity to and having learned calculus at 8 years old.

In short, common sense yields better results when brainstorming than complex ways of thinking about science, when in reality you're only painting yourself into a corner of your own research, locked away to rot in the 'wanna-be' scientific notables dungeon for years to come.

Dark energy just as wormholes are all around us. Observe and ye shall find. By the way, that point of so-called singularity is not what you think it is!


By OP Friedman (not verified) on 01 Aug 2014 #permalink

Einstein had incredible intuitive intelligence with legendary predictive accuracy. However, he too was human and fallible and prone to mistakes. That said I will not condemn his perceived errors with the absoluteness and cynicism as you did in this article. As I read the article I felt as if you had an agenda or determination to discredit and humiliate (just a bit too overzealousy). However, The very intellectual arrogance which you condemn is so evident in your writing, your sense of authority is completely out of bounds. Your message and style of delivery comes as across as a reflection of your frustration with your own inferiority.

By pounderbuoy (not verified) on 09 Oct 2014 #permalink

A great post on the nature of science.

By Mark Winslow (not verified) on 27 Jan 2015 #permalink