The European Physical Journal H

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 37-62

First online:

Einstein’s conversion from his static to an expanding universe

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In 1917 Einstein initiated modern cosmology by postulating, based on general relativity, a homogenous, static, spatially curved universe. To counteract gravitational contraction he introduced the cosmological constant. In 1922 Alexander Friedman showed that Albert Einstein’s fundamental equations also allow dynamical worlds, and in 1927 Georges Lemaître, backed by observational evidence, concluded that our universe was expanding. Einstein impetuously rejected Friedman’s as well as Lemaître’s findings. However, in 1931 he retracted his former static model in favour of a dynamic solution. This investigation follows Einstein on his hesitating path from a static to the expanding universe. Contrary to an often advocated belief the primary motive for his switch was not observational evidence, but the realisation that his static model was unstable.