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Einstein Wouldn't Be Embarrassed Any More.

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Posted by John Morgan Powell on February 9, 2001 01:21:04 UTC

Why did Einstein consider the cosmological constant his "greatest mistake"?

He added the constant because his theory suggested the universe should be dynamic, either expanding or contracting. He assumed the universe was doing neither (because if the universe were expanding or contracting, he would have heard about it). His constant permitted for a steady universe.

Later, Hubble showed that galaxies are receding from us in a way suggesting that the universe is expanding.

If Einstein had not put in the constant he would essentially be telling astronomers: my theory says the universe is either expanding or contracting. You people go look and tell us which it is. Einstein's theory would have predicted yet another previously unknown phenomenon!

Nowdays the cosmological constant is an important feature in cosmological theories. Probably Einstein would no longer consider it his greatest mistake if he were living today.

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