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Gold, Thomas

theory oil universe support

(1920– ) Austrian–US astronomer: proponent of steady-state theory; contributor to the theory of pulsars.

An Austrian émigré, Gold studied at Cambridge, UK, subsequently working there and at the Royal Greenwich Observatory before moving to the USA in 1956, where he later became director of the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research at Cornell University.

Gold, a leading proponent of the steady-state theory for the origin of the universe, published in 1948 the ‘perfect cosmological principle’ with , according to which the universe looks the same from every direction and at all times in its history. It is considered to have no beginning and no end, with matter being spontaneously created from empty space as the universe expands, in order to maintain a uniform density. Although the theory enjoyed support for a number of years, the discovery of the cosmic microwave background in 1964 by gave conclusive support to the rival ‘Big Bang’ theory.

Pulsars, discovered by in 1968, were another area of interest to Gold, who was quick to propose an explanation for their strange radio signatures–he suggested that they were rapidly rotating neutron stars, sweeping out a beam of radio energy like a lighthouse. His hypothesis was verified when the gradual slowing down of their rate of spin, a phenomenon that he had predicted, was detected.

More recently, Gold was involved with a Swedish project to drill deep into the Earth’s mantle to find commercial amounts of methane. He believed that significant amounts of hydrogen and helium remained within the Earth’s interior from the time of the planet’s formation and rejected the conventional organic theories of hydrocarbon formation, believing that oil fields are formed by the outward migration of this primordial gas.

These views were supported by the drill findings in 1991, under the Siljan ring, a meteorite crater north-west of Stockholm. Oil and gas were found there at 2800 m depth, in a crystalline granite rock. This location and depth could never have held organic remains whose decomposition would yield oil, and the find provides initial evidence in support of Gold’s view that oil can have an abiogenic origin.

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