One hundred years of the cosmological constant: from “superfluous stunt” to dark energy

  title={One hundred years of the cosmological constant: from “superfluous stunt” to dark energy},
  author={Cormac O’Raifeartaigh and Michael E. O'Keeffe and Werner Nahm and Simon A. Mitton},
  journal={The European Physical Journal H},
Abstract We present a centennial review of the history of the term known as the cosmological constant. First introduced to the general theory of relativity by Einstein in 1917 in order to describe a universe that was assumed to be static, the term fell from favour in the wake of the discovery of the expanding universe, only to make a dramatic return in recent times. We consider historical and philosophical aspects of the cosmological constant over four main epochs; (i) the use of the term in… Expand

Figures from this paper

Interrogating the Legend of Einstein's “Biggest Blunder”
It is well known that, following the emergence of the first evidence for an expanding universe, Albert Einstein banished the cosmological constant term from his cosmology. Indeed, he is reputed toExpand
Century of Λ
Abstract The cosmological constant was proposed 100 years ago in order to make the model of static Universe, imagined then by most scientists, possible. Today it is the main candidate for theExpand
A hundred years with the cosmological constant
The main points in the history of the cosmological constant are briefly discussed. As a conceptual background, useful for teaching of physics at an elementary college and university level, Newton'sExpand
On a physical description and origin of the cosmological constant
  • S. Viaggiu
  • Physics
  • Classical and Quantum Gravity
  • 2018
In this paper we use and extend the results present in \cite{1,2,3,4} and in particular in \cite{4} to obtain a statistical description of the cosmological constant in a cosmological de SitterExpand
The physical origin of the cosmological constant: continuum limit and the analogy with the Casimir effect
In this paper we continue the investigations in \cite{1} concerning the origin of the cosmological constant. First of all, we generalise the results in \cite{1,2} by considering a continuumExpand
Einstein's "biggest blunder" - interrogating the legend
It is well known that in the early 1930s, Einstein banished the cosmological constant term from his cosmology. He is reputed to have later described the term as his "biggest blunder", a statementExpand
The flatness problem and the age of the Universe
Several authors have made claims, none of which has been rebutted, that the flatness problem, as formulated by Dicke and Peebles, is not really a problem but rather a misunderstanding. Nevertheless,Expand
The Cosmological Constant From Planckian Fluctuations and the Averaging Procedure
In this paper I continue the investigation in \cite{1,1b} concerning my proposal on the nature of the cosmological constant. In particular, I study both mathematically and physically the quantumExpand
Stress testing the dark energy equation of state imprint on supernova data
This work determines the degree to which a standard Lambda-CDM analysis based on type Ia supernovae can identify deviations from a cosmological constant in the form of a redshift-dependent darkExpand
Better appreciating the scale of it (Lemâıtre and de Sitter at the BAAS Centenary)
In September 1931, a panel discussion was convened at Central Hall Westminster on the subject of the ‘Evolution of the Universe’, at the centenary meeting of the British Association for theExpand


Einstein’s 1917 static model of the universe: a centennial review
Abstract We present a historical review of Einstein’s 1917 paper ‘Cosmological Considerations in the General Theory of Relativity’ to mark the centenary of a key work that set the foundations ofExpand
Dark energy and the cosmological constant: A brief introduction
The recently observed acceleration of the expansion of the universe is a topic of intense interest. The favoured causes are the 'cosmological constant' or 'dark energy'. The former, which appears inExpand
A historical review of how the cosmological constant has fared in general relativity and cosmology
Abstract This paper reviews the ups and downs of the cosmological constant since its introduction into general relativity theory by Einstein in 1917. Although it has never really been loved, and is aExpand
The mystery of the cosmic vacuum energy density and the accelerated expansion of the Universe
After a short history of the -term it is explained why the (effective) cosmological constant is expected to obtain contributions from short-distance physics, corresponding to an energy scale of atExpand
Preludes to dark energy: zero-point energy and vacuum speculations
According to modern physics and cosmology, the universe expands at an increasing rate as the result of a “dark energy” that characterizes empty space. Although dark energy is a modern concept, someExpand
The Cosmological Constant and Dark Energy
Physics invites the idea that space contains energy whose gravitational effect approximates that of Einstein's cosmological constant, Lambda: nowadays the concept is termed dark energy orExpand
The cosmological constant and cold dark matter
THE cold dark matter (CDM) model1–4 for the formation and distribution of galaxies in a universe with exactly the critical density is theoretically appealing and has proved to be durable, but recentExpand
The Mystery of the Cosmological Constant
The constant, a measure of the energy of the vacuum, is cosmological because its valve has implications for the structure and fate of the universe. The wide divergence between theoretical andExpand
Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe
Ten years ago, the discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating put in place the last major building block of the present cosmological model, in which the universe is composed of 4%Expand