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Did Edgar Allan Poe Beat Einstein to the Punch?

19.11.2002 | Source:



In 1848, the Wylie and Putnam publishing house published the prose poem “Eureka” by Edgar Allan Poe, in which the writer expressed his revolutionary views upon the problem of origin of the world. The print run made up only 500 copies.

The poem “Eureka” was one of Poe’s unsuccessful works from a commercial point of view. Readers shrugged their shoulders in bewilderment, and critics attributed the religious and philosophic ideas of the author to the fact that he scarcely knew the subject about which he wrote and that he was deeply plunged into mystical experiments. At that, they didn’t hesitate to drop hints about Poe’s poor mental health.

Meanwhile, although Edgar Allan Poe wasn’t very good at mathematics and knew astronomy only from popular scientific books of that time, his intuition helped him to find the solution to a problem with which generations of scientists and philosophers were so preoccupied: the question of the origin of the Universe.

It’s an astonishing fact: it was Edgar Poe who was the first to discount the generally accepted concept of the Universe as stationary in the time and infinite in the space; Poe rather definitely formulated the Big Bang Theory, which was rediscovered and officially recognized only 100 years after his death.

In Poe’s words, the Universe started from a single and unique primordial particle, which originally consisted of the whole of the substance, and later, on the Creator’s will, instantly split into innumerable, but finite, aggregate of elements.

After the splitting, atoms started spreading in all directions, and they filled empty spaces and created a sphere; the above-mentioned primordial particles were to become the center of the sphere.

Based on this hypothesis, Edgar Poe solved the famous Olbers’ paradox. Indeed, if the Universe was infinite and the number of stars in it was also infinite, we would have seen then a night sky as bright as the Sun itself!

The history of science knows many scientists who lived ahead of their times. Maxwell spoke about invisible radio-waves nine years before they were officially discovered by Hertz; Wolfgang Pauli concluded the theory of existence of neutrons in his writings.

To all appearances, Edgar Allan Poe was the only writer who anticipated the greatest discovery of the 20th century.

Unfortunately, “Eureka” wasn’t popular among readers and had no effect on professional researchers.

Even Einstein, developing his General Theory of Relativity, couldn’t give up the generally accepted opinion about the static character of the Universe and had to invent “a cosmological constant” in order to adjust his theory to the accepted concept of the world.

Translated by Maria Gousseva


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