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No. 47: Sep-Oct 1986

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Back in 1929, F. Zwicky proposed that the redshifts astronomers observed in the spectra of celestial objects might not be due to universal expansion but rather to "tired light." In other words, the wavelengths of the photons entering our telescopes are redshifted because they have lost energy through interactions with matter en route to earth. The "tired light" theory was eclipsed by the esthetically appealing concepts of the Big Bang and Expanding Universe.

But not everyone has forgotten Zwicky's tired light. P. LaViolette has:

"...compared the tired light cosmology to the standard model of an expanding universe on four different observational tests and has found that on each one the tired-light hypothesis was superior. The differences between the rival cosmologies are most apparent at large redshifts, however, and it is in this region that observations are most difficult to make."

(Anonymous; "New Study Questions Expanding Universe," Astronomy, 14:64, August 1986.)

Gratuitous comment. In all three of the foregoing items, observations are challenging fundamental astronomical hypotheses: the Big Bang, the Expanding Universe, redshifts as cosmological yardstocks, etc. With more and more such data accumulating all the time, the strains in the key girders of astronomical thought are beginning to show. Of course, most astronomers will vehemently deny this assertion. Those who care to read the biological tidbits that follow will discover that biological paradigms are also feeling the pressure of radical change. Geology and psychology are also being wracked by disturbing anomalies. It's like being on the San Andreas fault, these little quakes only presage major shift to come.

Reference. The redshift controversy is presented in greater depth in our catalog: Stars, Galaxies, Cosmos. For details, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #47, SEP-OCT 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987