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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