Not every major scientific discovery is met with open arms. Throughout history some of the biggest discoveries were met with the highest resistance. So are these huge controversial discoveries still being proposed these days? Listen to the latest Question Your World Radio Report from the Science Museum of Virginia to find out.
Galileo and Copernicus both brought forth seemingly insane ideas about our world. Both were very important in changing the way humanity viewed not only itself, but also the rest of what was out there. Though at this time the idea of a sun-centered solar system seems commonplace, back in the 1500's this was a totally foreign thought. Copernicus was considered a misfit and looked down upon by the masses for his radical ideas. However, a little bit later Galileo Galilei came along with an updated telescope and was able to show the Copernican model was correct. Even though he had proof his radical ideas were still considered too controversial. Bold new ideas seem to often go against the stream.
After many years of observed studies the heliocentric model took off and became the standard. Galileo and Copernicus never lived to see a world in which humanity readily accepted their discoveries with open arms. Regardless, they opened the door to modern science and inspired generations of astronomers after them. One of those astronomers was Edwin Hubble, who first spotted not only other galaxies, but was able to calculate the distance that they were all moving apart from one another. This bold new discovery, over time, became yet another standard. This is where today's story comes into play. Currently we abide by this principle that there are various galaxies all over the universe and they are being pushed apart from one another. So, what happens when someone challenges that? Well, German astrophysicist Christof Wetterich is poised to do just that. He's been working on a theory that goes against the grain on the universal expansion.
Imagine for a moment if the universe is not expanding at all. This is part of the theory that Prof Wetterich has brought forth to the science community. In his recent proposal the scientists are saying that there's a chance that the universe is not expanding, but all the matter in the universe is slowly increasing in size. Let's think about that for a moment. Every bit of matter is getting larger and the universe is not expanding as we once thought. Now, this is a bold new idea. The math in Wetterich's formulas account for the wavelengths of distant objects reaching and the redshift of moving objects. This new theory is making quite the buzz, but remains strictly theoretical as of now. We won't be able to accept or reject this idea till testing and measurements are done, but regardless, this is an excellent example about how the processes of science continue to question both unknown and established thinking.
While this is not mainstream news just yet, the science community is already looking at this theory with raised eyebrows. No one is saying he's right or wrong, but the idea seems to have intrigued those that spend their careers in this field. Only with more testing will we fully understand the scope of this new proposal regardless of how comfortable or uncomfortable it makes us. That is the beauty of the scientific process.
Article by Prabir Mehta, Science Museum of Virginia