Einstein May Have Discovered Dark Energy Without Even Realizing It
An historian of science from New York University has re-interpreted a correspondence between Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrodinger in which the two scientists argued about the nature of the cosmological constant
But as history now knows, it wasn’t that bad of a blunder. In fact, he was actually on to something.
As Alex Harvey has now revealed in a recent paper, Einstein, in conversation with Schrodinger, described a characteristic of the cosmological constant that is now regarded as a fixture of dark energy theory — the idea that it’s a non-uniform force in the cosmos that’s pushing everything outwards. Moreover, he dismissed the idea right there and then on account of the problems it would create for physicists trying to quantify it — something that has most certainly happened.
Specifically, Einstein and Schrodinger were discussing the properties of the cosmological constant and speculating about what form it might take. Schrodinger wondered if the “cosmic gravitational field” would be fixed or varied in terms of its strength, to which Einstein responded: