Bentley's paradox

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Bentley's paradox is a cosmological paradox pointing to a problem occurring when Newton's theory of gravitation is applied to cosmology.


Richard Bentley was a younger contemporary of Isaac Newton. After Newton had formulated his law of gravitation, he observed, in a letter to Richard Bentley, that if all the stars are drawn to each other by gravitation, they should collapse into a single point. One will be drawn to another; that star will grow and pull in still more and more. In time, everything must be drawn in. "According to Newton, each star in the universe ought to be attracted towards every other star. They should not remain motionless, at a constant distance from each other, but should all fall together to some central point. Newton admitted as much in a letter to Richard Bentley, a leading Cambridge philosopher of the time."[1] Newton solved the paradox by claiming that God prevented the collapse by making "constant minute corrections". Though Newton's explanation was rather unsatisfactory from a cosmological aspect, Bentley's paradox could prove to be the reason behind the "Big Crunch", the opposite phenomenon of the "Big Bang".[2]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ "This Month in Physics History - Einstein's Biggest Blunder", APS News, Vol. 14, Nr. 7, July 2005, online
  2. ^ Clegg, Brian (4 August 2009). "What and How Big?". Before the Big Bang: The Prehistory of Our Universe. St. Martin's Press. pp. 32–35. ISBN 9780312385477