In 1917 Albert Einstein added a “fudge factor” to his general theory of relativity. The reason was that he was intuitively convinced that the Universe was effectively static and added the factor to make it so in theory too. Without the fudge factor he determined that his expression of relativity was unstable and could equally well represent an expanding or a contracting universe. 10 years or so later Edwin Hubble’s observations indicated an expanding universe via observed red shifts and the scientific community basically took sides as Steady State versus Big Bang. The arguments were still going on while I was finishing my secondary education. While I was at University the matter seemed to come to a resolution in favour of the “Big Bang” theory of an expanding universe. Some very big names changed sides during this period but not all.
I was very disturbed by the fact that the scientific community was apparently making decisions by consensus not science. There was no clear and definitive evidence, it seemed one simply chose a side and adopted the appropriate implied relationships. Most worrying was that some of the science fiction was making more sense than the theories.
After getting my degree I was faced with a difficult decision. I was offered a place on post-graduate studies and from my performance thus far I was being assured of going the distance, but I was unhappy. To that point I had worked my way through my education via a student apprenticeship so all my breaks were spent in my Employer’s research laboratories. My employer was in advanced aerospace electronics. While my College however was teaching vacuum tube technology my Employer was deeply committed to solid state electronics. In my last year quantum mechanics appeared on the syllabus along with semiconductors and atomic physics.
The books which formed the core of the course were following between four and twenty years behind the technology and of course anybody whose knowledge depended on books would have serious gaps where the researchers like me and my employers simply used new developments to enhance market share and would not publish it. My career path was also boosted by a number of “breakthroughs” some of which were patented while others disappeared behind the Official Secrets Act.
I could never get comfortable with that early Big Bang v Steady State conflict and was still by no means ready to choose a side! I didn’t actually care which way I ended up but it had to be logical not peer pressure.
As the years rolled by, family life took up all the resources left over from my professional life until now, in retirement, I remembered it all and started to think once again but now instead of books I have the Internet and much of what follows can be attributed to Wikipedia.
I now fully support Einstein in his intuitive assumption of a Steady State Universe but in my own fashion.