What Was the Steady-state Theory?
Fred Hoyle was a mathematician at Cambridge University, who, alongside two other university colleagues in 1948, put forward a new theory of the universe. It was a theory that would send shockwaves through the scientific world; to call it radical would be an understatement. It was named the ‘Steady-state Theory’.
The Steady-state Theory was based on an idea that the universe didn’t explode out of nothing (Big Bang Theory) but instead has always existed, but with the added caveat that the matter that surrounds us is continually and steadily trickling into existence. Rather bizarrely, many of the predictions based on the Steady-state Theory were in agreeance with Einstein’s theory of relativity. Both made clear predictions about what the universe must be like. It may have been nothing but ‘guess work’ but it was very educated guess work and much of it made sense to many scientists, but not all.
As the 1950’s moved into the ‘swinging 60’s’ there were many critics of the Steady-state Theory who claimed to have proof that many of the predictions within were blatantly wrong. Today, much of that ‘proof’ has turned out to be wrong itself – that itself is to jump too far forward at this point.
An incident in 1965, the discovery, by two US engineers, that the universe was filled with heat, sounded the death-knell for the Steady-state Theory. The argument was that the only way the universe could have such heat is if it had exploded into existence; the heat they found all but confirmed to many scientists that the Big Bang Theory is correct and that the Steady-state Theory is wrong.
As time moved forward, more and more evidence has been discovered that Hoyle may have been so close to discovering the ‘truth’. A possible explanation for the Big Bang emerged in 1981. Scientists found that, in the very early stages of the universe, sub atomic effects triggered a rapid cosmic expansion called ‘inflation’. Based on these findings, governing laws of ‘inflation’ were worked out – they just so happened to be identical to the predictions of the Steady-state Theory.
Since then, as more and more of the workings of the universe are being observed, many scientists suggest that the universe will keep on expanding forever; that would be in keeping with the Steady-state Theory that argues that such expansion would be propelled by the steady push of sub-atomic effects.
In very simple terms, it would appear that perhaps both theories may have been right. Perhaps the universe began with a Big Bang and has now settled into a Steady-state. Perhaps there is another theory that would explain it all – it would be interesting to find out.