T heories of a Static Universe Never in all the history of science has there been a period when new theories and hypotheses arose, flourished, and were abandoned in so quick succession as in the last fifteen or twenty years. —Willem de Sitter, 1931 Looking back on the years of discovery and upheaval between 1915 and 1930, the Dutch astronomer Willem de Sitter rightly identified the period as perhaps the most extraordinary ever known to physical scientists. In the theories of relativity and the quantum, physicists starting with Albert Einstein had given entirely new and astounding explanations of energy, matter, gravity, even space and time. As astronomers tried to apply these new tools to cosmology, they were struck with their own revelations. As described on the previous page,
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