birdwatcher (birdwatcher) wrote,
birdwatcher
birdwatcher

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Наша с вами история

     In 1963, two Russian scientists, Evgenii Lifshitz and Isaac Khalatnikov, claimed to have proved that solutions of the Einstein equations with a singularity all had a special arrangement of matter and velocities. The chances that the solution representing the universe would have this special arrangement were practically zero. Almost all solutions that could represent the universe would avoid having a singularity of infinite density: Before the era during which the universe was expanding, there must have been a previous contracting phase during which matter fell together but missed colliding with itself, moving apart again in the present expanding phase. If this were the case, time would continue forever, from the infinite past to the infinite future.
     Not everyone was convinced by the arguments of Lifshitz and Khalatnikov. Instead, Roger Penrose and I adopted a different approach, based not on a detailed study of solutions but on the global structure of spacetime. [...] Our paper, proving time had a beginning, won the second prize in the competition sponsored by the Gravity Research Foundation in 1968, and Roger and I shared the princely sum of $300.
     There were other reactions to our work. It upset many physicists, but it delighted those religious leaders who believed in an act of creation, for here was scientific proof. Meanwhile, Lifshitz and Khalatnikov were in an awkward position. They couldn't argue with the mathematical theorems that we had proved, but under the Soviet system they couln't admit they had been wrong and Western science had been right. However, they saved the situation by finding a more general family of solutions with a singularity, which weren't special in the way their previous solutions had been. This enabled them to claim singularities, and the beginning or end of time, as a Soviet discovery.


--Hawking, "The Universe in a Nutshell"
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