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Cosmology's CenturyAn Inside History of Our Modern Understanding of the Universe$
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P. J. E. Peebles

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196022

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196022.001.0001

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The Homogeneous Universe

The Homogeneous Universe

(p.12) Chapter Two The Homogeneous Universe
Cosmology's Century

P. J. E. Peebles

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses Albert Einstein's (1917) proposal, from pure thought, that a philosophically sensible universe is homogeneous and isotropic: no preferred center or direction, no observable edges to the universe as we see it around us. That of course is apart from the minor irregularities of matter concentrated in people and planets and stars. Einstein's homogeneity is essential to the thought that one might be able to find a theory of the universe as a whole rather than of one or another of its parts. It was an inspired intuitive vision or maybe just a lucky guess; Einstein certainly had no observational evidence that suggested it. The history of how Einstein's thought was received and tested exemplifies the interplay in science between theory and practice, sometimes reinforcing each other; sometimes in serious tension; and, as in this case, sometimes aided by unexpected developments. The chapter then considers the development of the evidence that supports what became known as Einstein's cosmological principle.

Keywords:   Albert Einstein, universe, homogeneity, isotropy, matter, cosmological principle

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