Last modified on April 9, 2019, at 12:00

Expanding universe

Expanding universe is a hypothesis resting on Hubble's law that consolidates a number of very plausible intellectual steps:[1]

  • Each atom has a spectral signature, a distinctive electromagnetic frequency.
  • The light streaming in from space reveals through its spectral signature information about the composition of the galaxies from which it was sent.
  • The characteristic signature of hydrogen can be detected from various remote galaxies with its frequency shifted towards the red portion of the spectrum. This discovery was first made in the 1920s by V.M. Sipher by means of very primitive equipment and then confirmed by E. Hubble in the late 1920s by far more sophisticated telescope after Slipher had turned his attention elsewhere.
  • Hubble realized that this galactic redshift can be interpreted as effect of something similar to familiar Doppler effect applicable to sound waves, i.e. a conjecture can be made that the distortions in the spectral signatures of the galaxies come from a reflection of their recessional velocity.
  • The inference from the observations of spectra expressed in quantitative relationship (known as Hubble's law): the redshift of a galaxy thus its recessional velocity is:

This inference directly lead to theories on expanding universe, in the 1930s the front page of The New York Times declared: "We are living in an Expanding Universe".[2]

Distance-redshift relationship

It is popular misconception to believe that Hubble had observed in the 100-inch reflector on Mount Wilson Observatory, the greatest telescope at that time, the galaxies zooming off into the far distance. Deriving indirect conclusion on the expanding universe hinges on interpretation of other observational evidence, namely of the spectral signature of the light from far galaxies. Hubble used only 20 galaxies[1] to land at his conclusion[3] and although astronomers today can indeed point to places in the universe where the redshift of the galaxies appears to be a linear function of their distance[note 1], there is also a disturbing evidence that this linear relationship does not describe the facts entirely.[1] After they have studied the evidence for galactic recessional velocity over the course of twenty years, I.E. Segal and his associates argued in their paper Statistical invalidation of the Hubble law that the representation of the redshift-distance relationship as an empirical fact was uncritical and premature. Observed discrepancies "have been resolved by a pyramid of exculpatory assumptions, which are inherently incapable of noncircular substantiation."[4] The discrepancy between hypothesis and observed facts pertains mainly to quasars with respect to which Maarten Schmidt discovered in 1960 that their spectral lines were shifted massively to the red. If Hubble's law were correct, quasars should be unrealistically far away at the boundaries of observable universe or even beyond it.[1] There were two properties of quasars that were difficult for astronomers to understand within the framework of the expanding universe theory:[2]

  • If one trends apparent brightness against the redshifts as for galaxies, the result is unexpected diagram with scattered points instead of smooth curve as it is the case of galaxies: This seems to indicate that the quasars do not follow the Hubble law as do the most other objects and there is no indication that they are at their proposed redshift distances. It is argued that if Hubble would have these data at disposal first, he would never conclude that the universe is expanding.
  • The second property was that quasars are very small compact objects sometimes only a light year across so that if they are at their proposed redshift distances, they must be the brightest and most energetic objects known to astronomers. So energetic that in fact non-testable and almost metaphysical mechanism must be applied to explain the phenomena.

On the other hand, when placed at their observed distances, that is in the neighbourhood of nearby galaxies, their energies become normal and no special mechanisms need to be invoked. This problem lead many astronomers to abandon the idea that all redshifts are due to the speed of the recession away from the earth. And if this is true, then there is no need for the expanding universe and the big bang never happened.[2] The phenomenon of failed expected relationship between redshift and distance was further investigated by Halton Arp. He presented the provisional results of his research to the editor of Astrophysical Journal S. Chandrasekhar in the paper labelled Companion Galaxies on the Ends of Spiral Arms (1969):

The hypothesis advanced is that these companions have been recently ejected (107 - 108 years ago) from the parent galaxy. It is concluded that they are short-lived and that many are now in the process of expanding and ejecting secondary material.
Consequently, he was deprived of the observation time at the 200-inch Palomar telescope as these observations do not comport with standard Big Bang cosmology, i.e. with the central preconceived dogma of so-called mainstream scientists:[5]
"The commitee feels that it is not longer reasonable to assign time to Arp to pursue researches aimed at establishing the association of quasars with nearby galaxies."
He was advised to change the line of research or look for another job and finallly forced to resign from his permanent position.[2]

J.Hartnett argues that suggesting that there is no truth to the Hubble Law would be inappropriate but one need to be careful in its application. He believes the redshift of quasars consists of several components:[6]

  • Intrinsic - the largest component correlated to the loss of energy
  • Cosmological - related to distance interpretation of Hubble law
  • Local Doppler - small velocity shifts due to local motion

M.Carmeli published in 2001 the paper named Cosmological Relativity: Determining the Universe by the Cosmological Redshift as Infinite and Curved where he declared that using the cosmological relativity theory, he was able to derive the formula for the cosmological redshift and based on the data of observed redshifts was concluding that the universe is infinite and curved, and expands forever.[7]

In an invited paper of the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (2001), Geoffrey Burbidge wrote that:[6]

‘underlying all of the topics [in] the extragalactic universe and the physics of active galaxies are two basic beliefs which are widely held today:
  • (1) cosmological evidence strongly suggests that the hot big bang cosmological model is generally correct and
  • (2) redshifts of all objects outside our Galaxy are, apart from small velocity shifts due to local motions, cosmological in origin.
In my view the general acceptance of these ideas and the subsequent edifice of models which has been erected around these ideas is a fundamental mistake. The direction that research will take in the 21st century, however, may well lead to a compounding of the mistake, and I predict no immediate return to reality.’


  1. In 1958 G.O. Abell et al. published Catalog of Bright Cluster Galaxies that is considered for being a perfect support for Hubble's law coherence between predictions and observations. Berlinski however points out that this is unsubstantiated as Abell in fact used circular reasoning, i.e. the conclusion was already stated in the premises that cluster's "redshift were proportional to their distance."[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 David Berlinski (2009). "Was there a Big Bang?", The Deniable Darwin. Seattle, USA: Discovery Institute Press, 216–221. ISBN 978-0-9790141-2-3. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Universe, the cosmology quest. Floating World Films A Randall Meyers production. In association with Norsk Filmstudio AS and and NRK TV fakta. 09:09-12:44.
  3. Michail S. Turner. Dark Matter, Dark Energy and Inflation: The Big Mysteries of Cosmology 0h:05min:00sec/1h:11min:39sec. Arizona connection, Lectures series. Retrieved on 2012-10-14. “He also discovered that the universe is expanding. ... Some people think that Hubble is famous because here was a bunch of coffee stains at piece of graph paper and he was able to draw a straight line through it.”
  4. I. E. Segal (November, 1980). Statistical invalidation of the Hubble law 77(11): 6275–6279. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Retrieved on June 9, 2013. “In the absence of independent validation of a variety of ancillary hypotheses that have been adduced in connection with the linear law, it seems necessary to conclude that the Hubble law lacks an objective statistical foundation.”
  5. Group of signatories (May 22, 2004). An Open Letter to the Scientific Community: The cosmology statement. New Scientist. “An open exchange of ideas is lacking in most mainstream conferences. Whereas Richard Feynman could say that "science is the culture of doubt", in cosmology today doubt and dissent are not tolerated, and young scientists learn to remain silent if they have something negative to say about the standard big bang model. Those who doubt the big bang fear that saying so will cost them their funding. Even observations are now interpreted through this biased filter, judged right or wrong depending on whether or not they support the big bang. So discordant data on red shifts, lithium and helium abundances, and galaxy distribution, among other topics, are ignored or ridiculed. This reflects a growing dogmatic mindset that is alien to the spirit of free scientific inquiry. Today, virtually all financial and experimental resources in cosmology are devoted to big bang studies. Funding come from only a few sources, and all the peer-review committees that control them are dominated by supporters of the big bang. As a result, the dominance of the big bang within the field has become self-sustaining, irrespective of the scientific validity of the theory.”
  6. 6.0 6.1 John Hartnett (2004). Quantized quasar redshifts in a creationist cosmology 105–113. Technical Journal (present-day Journal of Creation). Retrieved on 2012-1015.
  7. M.Carmeli (October 2001). Cosmological Relativity: Determining the Universe by the Cosmological Redshift as Infinite and Curved Volume 40, Issue 10, pp 1871–1874. International Journal of Theoretical Physics. Retrieved on June 9, 2013.