By Peter G. Bergmann (auth.), Peter C. Aichelburg, Roman U. Sexl (eds.)
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Additional resources for Albert Einstein: His Influence on Physics, Philosophy and Politics
In 1924 Edwin Hubble  took his first decisive step when he showed definitely that the spiral nebula in Andromeda lies outside the Milky Way. He and other astronomers then set up a major programme of measuring the distances and motions of the nebulae, or galaxies as they came to be called. He developed the picture of the universe more or less as we have it today, with galaxies occurring in groups and clusters of various sizes, our own Milky Way, for example, belonging to the Local Group of ab'out 20 galaxies.
The power of general relativity to represent the whole universe was first demonstrated by Einstein  in 1917, shortly after his field equations had been adumbrated. known, and it was natural for Einstein to construct a static model. This he could do only by modifying his field equations by introducing an extra term - the cosmological term - to provide an effectively repulsive force to balance the attractiveness of gravity, so permitting the whole universe to be static. Later he was to call this step the biggest blunder of his life .
Then, when its moment arrives, it explodes into ordinary matter. But this moment is of its 'own' choosing, governed, apparently, by no definite law. As yet, there is no clearly understood and definitive theoretical argument against white holes. But nevertheless, certain arguments can be given to show that their presence would be totally at variance with certain very desirable thermodynamic principles. In my opinion, we do not have to take them seriously as actual objects in the universe. However, we are still stuck with the big bang and that perhaps seems untidy.