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The Enigma Of The Universe : Steady-state Universe

Published: 22.10.2014

One of the most recent theories of universe which is considered to be the current theory in the field of astronomy is the theory of steady-state universe, advocated chiefly by Prof. Fred Hoyle, Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge, and two of his colleagues Hermann Bondy and Thomas Gold.[1]  This theory also, as we shall see, propounds that the universe is beginningless and endless. According to the steady-state theory, the universe is expanding, but at the same time new matter is created at a constant rate, thus compensating the expansion of the universe and maintaining the mean density of matter in the universe, constant. In other words, new matter is being continually created so as to maintain a constant density.[2] Fred Hoyle, the sponsor of the theory, writes: “The question arises: if the galaxies are moving apart from each other, why does space not become more and more empty? The answer of the theory is that new galaxies and clusters of galaxies are constantly being formed, their rate of formation just compensating for the separating effect of the expansion. So a stable situation is preserved.”[3]  Thus, according to this theory, the large- scale features of the universe do not change with time. Only the galaxies and cluster of galaxies change.

The steady-state theory asserts that the new matter which is being continually created, originates as hydrogen atoms. The rate of creation of new matter, according to this theory is about one hydrogen atom every million million years.[4] But why the material of the universe originates as hydrogen, is not explained by him. He simply writes: “We have spoken of material originating as hydrogen and there is now strong evidence that this view is correct. Why does the material of the Universe originate as hydrogen? Hydrogen is certainly the simplest of the elements, but an argument based on simplicity is scarcely an entirely satisfactory one. There must, it seems, be a clear-cut reason why it is hydrogen that originates and not other elements. What this reason is we do not know. Nor can the reason apparently be supplied within the frame work of any of the theories that are being considered at the moment. Yet unless a reason can be given we are once again faced with an arbitrary situation. Even if all the projects outlines above turn out successfully the theory must still be judged incomplete until it has explained why it is only hydrogen that can originate and no other elements. And we can scarcely imagine that such an explanation can be forthcoming until a connection with the detailed theories of nuclear physics has been established.”[5]

At another place, Fred Hoyle, explaining the beginningless and endless universe, writes: “In this way we arrive at a Universe in which the individuals-the clusters of galaxies-change and evolve with time but which itself does not change. The old queries about the beginning and end of the Universe are dealt with in a surprising manner-by saying that they are meaningless, for the reason that the Universe did not have a beginning and it will not have an end. Every cluster of galaxies, every star, every atom had a beginning, but not the Universe itself. The Universe is something more than its parts, a perhaps unexpected conclusion.”[6]

The steady-state theory, as a consequence, leads to many startling conclusions:-

  1. That the universe had no beginning and will have no end.
  2. That space as well as time is infinite.
  3. That matter is continually being created throughout the space.[7]

The steady-state theory is also approached from mathematical point of view, using the powerful equations of Einstein.[8]

The holders of this theory claim to have found evidences in its support.[9]

Fred Hoyle writes: “The grounds for the acceptance of a theory lie in the possibility of subjecting it to observational test. This condition the steady-state theory fulfils in good measure.”[10]

The steady-state theory, however, is not free from criticism. Other scientists have found observations contradictory to the steady-state theory. Dr. George Gamow has considered the steady- state theory very questionable, and offered objections against it.[11] While, on the other hand, the holders of the steady-state theory find many evidences against the evolution theory of Dr. George Gamow.[12]  Fred Hoyle, criticizing the super dense theory, observes: “The weakness of the super dense theory, for instance, is that it puts most of the important observational features of the Universe into its starting conditions the reason for the expansion of the Universe, for its large scale uniformity, for the condensation of the galaxies, are put into the theory in a manner that cannot be tested. This is to miss what seems to be the whole point of a scientific theory that its value depends on the possibility of disproving it. Gold has expressed this most aptly by saying that ‘for a theory to be of any value it must be vulnerable.‘ Vulnerability supplies the conditions of success or failure in accordance with observational tests, and it is on this that science and indeed all rational argument is based. The aim in science is not to build a theory that is so hedged in with protective conditions that nobody can get at it. The aim is to build a theory that is exposed to observational attack in as many directions as possible, and which then manages to survive.”[13]

Opposition of the steady-state theory was recently made by Prof. Martin Ryle and other Cambridge Scientists. They have maintained that the assertion of steady-state theory that there is a constant creation of new stars in the space from hydrogen atoms is wrong. With the help of the powerful radio telescopes, these scientists have found that matter far away is more concentrated than it is closer around us. This, they contend, is in contradiction to the steady-state theory. Thus Prof. Ryle has claimed to have disproved the steady-state theory.[14]

Prof. Fred Hoyle, however, has not accepted that this theory should now be discarded.[15]

Thus we find that there is not a single theory which is universally accepted.


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Title: The Enigma Of The Universe Publisher: JVB University Ladnun English Edition: 2010 HN4U Online Edition: 2014

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