The Observational Approach to Cosmology

The Observational Approach to Cosmology

The Observational Approach to Cosmology

The Observational Approach to Cosmology

Excerpt

This book contains the Rhodes Memorial Lectures delivered at Oxford in the Autumn of 1936, under the general title, 'The Observational Approach to Cosmology'.

The observable region of space, the region that can be explored with existing instruments, is a sample of the universe. If the sample is fair, its observed characteristics should furnish important information concerning the universe at large. The lectures describe the general features now known, and discuss the nature of the inferences to which they lead.

The features, however, include the phenomena of red-shifts whose significance is still uncertain. Alternative interpretations are possible, and, while they introduce only minor differences in the picture of the observable region, they lead to totally different conceptions of the universe itself. One conception, at the moment, seems less plausible than the other, but this dubious world, the expanding universe of relativistic cosmology, is derived from the more likely of the two interpretations of red-shifts. Thus the discussion ends in a dilemma, and the resolution must await improved observations or improved theory or both.

However, the significance of the investigation lies not in the failure to reach a unique solution to the problem of the structure of the universe, but rather in the fact that the venture is now permissible. As late as fifteen years ago the observable region was restricted to our own system of stars, the system of the Milky Way. Since that time great reflectors have identified the nebulae as independent stellar systems, the true inhabitants of space. Exploration, using the nebulae as gigantic landmarks, have swept out beyond the Milky . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.