Milne’s cosmology

Barely a day goes by without my making some use of the Milne model, the vacuum, curvature-only FLRW solution. It’s a useful standard for comparing supernova distance modulus curves with. But Edward Arthur Milne was much more than the father of a handy reference model. Throughout the 1930’s and 40’s he worked on a radical, non-general-relativistic cosmology, deduced purely from two basic axioms. Those were the Cosmological Principle – that everything is the same everywhere in the Universe – and the principle that observers could mutually agree on some universal standard of measuring time.

Milne’s theory is a beautiful attempt to deduce cosmological theory axiomatically, without recourse to empirical input. It received a substantial amount of attention in the first half of the 20th Century but, through a series of conceptual difficulties, it ultimately failed, yielding to the more practical relativistic theories. Nevertheless, it seems to have left a lasting mark on the field, and many of Milne’s ideas remain common currency, even if the original theory has slipped into obscurity.

I’m giving a talk on this subject at an OUSAS meeting tomorrow.


About Phil Bull

I'm a theoretical cosmologist, currently working as a NASA NPP fellow at JPL/Caltech in Pasadena, CA. My research focuses on the effects of inhomogeneities on the evolution of the Universe and how we measure it. I'm also keen on stochastic processes, scientific computing, the philosophy of science, and open source stuff. View all posts by Phil Bull

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