Dewey B. Larson
755 N.E. Royal Court
Portland, Oregon 97232
July 15, 1961
Dr. Martin Harwit
Dept. of Applied Mathematics
and Theoretical Physics
Dear Dr. Harwit:
Your article in the Jan. 1961 issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society has recently come to my attention. Since you arrive at a negative answer to the question posed in the title of the article I would like to give you some information about a somewhat different steady-state theory in which the answer to this question of yours would be affirmative.
I am not an astronomer, and would not attempt to formulate an astronomical or cosmological theory as such, but I have had occasion to develop a general physical theory in the course of an extended investigation of basic physical processes, and since this general theory is of such a nature that it is universally applicable it is obviously possible to extend it into the astronomical field which, after all, is only physics on a colossal scale. This new theoretical structure is based entirely on two postulates as to the nature of space and time, incorporating a total of seven assumptions: four as to the physical nature of space-time and three as to its mathematical behavior. No other assumptions or factors of any kind are introduced at any stage of the development. I do not assume the existence of matter, of radiation, of gravitation, of the various astronomical entities such as stars, star clusters, galaxies, etc., or of their properties. All of these phenomena must exist if the basic postulates are valid.
One of the direct consequences of these new postulates is that all locations in the physical universe are moving continuously outward from each other at unit velocity (the velocity of light) carrying with them any existing objects with no independent motion of their own. It likewise follows directly from the postulates that all units of matter, by virtue of the same properties that give them their status as matter, have an inherent motion greater in magnitude (at unit distance) and opposite in direction to the space-time progression. This retrograde movement of matter is, of course, the phenomenon that we know as gravitation, and the fact that it is a result of the relation of each mass unit to the general space-time structure rather than an interaction between mass units explains those peculiar characteristics—the instantaneous action, the absence of a medium, and the impossibility of screening off or modifying the effect—which have been so difficult to account for.
Inasmuch as the progression of space-time originates everywhere and thus is constant in magnitude, whereas gravitation originates at specific locations and its effects diminish in proportion to the square of the distance, it follows that for each mass there is a gravitational limit at which the opposing forces are equal. Within this limit the gravitational force exceeds that of the space-time progression and the net movement is inward. Beyond the limit these relations are reversed and the net movement is outward. This new theory, therefore, accounts for both gravitation and the expansion of the universe at one stroke.
In this system the answer to your question is definitely yes. A new unit of matter produced anywhere within the gravitational limit of an existing mass immediately begins moving toward an eventual consolidation with that mass. I have not made a detailed mathematical analysis of the situation outside the gravitational limits of all major aggregates, but since the recession is extremely small at short distances where gravitation is most effective it seems clear that there is some point within which the gravitational effect of the total included mass, even if it consists of very diffuse matter, is greater than the effect of the recession. All newly produced matter, irrespective of location, should therefore move gravitationally toward consolidation with existing masses or with other newly produced matter.
You will note that on this basis the zero point of the recession represented by the spectral red shift is at the gravitational limit of the galaxy, not at the "origin of any given coordinate system". The effect on the Hubble velocity-distance relation is not significant since my calculations indicate that the gravitational limit for an ordinary large galaxy such as our own is on the order of a million light years, a relatively small quantity, but the implications with respect to the behavior of matter within the million light year radius are quite important.
The origin and present status of this new theory are explained in some detail in the attached copy of a form letter which I am using in the distribution of some of my papers. On the assumption that these ideas have sufficient bearing on your current problems to justify some consideration on your part, I am taking the liberty of forwarding to you a copy of the book which explains my general theories and also copies of the supplementary memorandums that apply to the astronomical field. I am presuming that you will not be particularly interested in the papers on the liquid state and other subjects outside astronomy, but if this is incorrect I will be glad to send these items as well.
Incidentally, the new cosmological theory derived from my postulates is a cyclical theory; that is, it involves regeneration of previously destroyed matter rather than creation of new matter. This, like all other features of the new astronomical picture, is an unavoidable consequence of the postulates, not something that I put in deliberately, but I should point out that a cycle of this kind is absolutely essential for a true steady-state universe. I am rather surprised that the opponents of your Cambridge theories have not already made capital of the fact that these theories do not actually arrive at a genuine steady state. In order to qualify for this classification a theoretical universe must, of course, remain essentially unchanged in its major aspects. For instance, the age of the oldest galaxy within any reasonably large region—let us say the field of view of the 200 inch telescope -- must stay constant except for minor fluctuations. According to Professor Hoyle this is accomplished by the progressive disappearance of the oldest galaxies beyond the horizon, each in turn leaving the status of the “oldest galaxy in sight” to one of the somewhat younger galaxies just approaching this horizon. But this only holds good up to the point where our own galaxy becomes the oldest within this particular region. From then on the age of the oldest galaxy within this region continually increases, and consequently the universe is not in a steady state. Even if we were to locate a hypothetical 200-inch telescope in intergalactic space as our point of reference to define the region under consideration, the ultimate result would be the same, as sooner or later a galaxy would appear at this location and this galaxy would grow older indefinitely. In order to maintain a genuine steady state any process of creation or production of matter must be counterbalanced by some process of destruction of matter so that the oldest units are actually removed from the system—mere increase of separation between units will not accomplish the purpose.
D. B. Larson