Edward A Milne

Relativity, gravitation and world-structure

I can't help feeling that Edward A Milne has been treated rather harshly by history. The thing is that he was opposed to general relativity, which is at the heart of cosmology. If you read 'Relativity, gravitation and world-structure' you will see that many of his ideas were clearly wrong in the light of later discoveries. However, that can be said of virtually any cosmologist. Its certainly instructive to take a look at this book, although I wouldn't advise you to try to struggle through the maths. Firstly, it tells you what issues cosmologists were worrying about in the 1930's. Secondly, one can wonder what might have happened if Milne's ideas had been taken more seriously - maybe they could have been made to fit in with later observations.

Milne takes a 'special relativistic' view of the cosmos, indeed the start of the book is taken up with his derivation of special relativity. This largely corresponds to the (0,0) case in general relativistic cosmology - no cosmological constant, and matter has no large scale gravitational effect. It is interesting to note that this has no particle horizon, which Milne considers as a point in its favour. From his viewpoint a particle horizon would either mean the boundary of the universe meeting matter from 'outside' the universe, or it would imply continuous creation of matter - Milne's religious beliefs made him favour the idea of the universe being created at one point in time.