In this paper I describe the scientific content of Eureka, the prose poem written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1848. In that work, starting from metaphysical assumptions, Poe claims that the Universe is finite in an infinite Space, and that it was originated from a primordial Particle, whose fragmentation under the action of a repulsive force caused a diffusion of atoms in space. I will show that his subsequently collapsing universe represents a scientifically acceptable Newtonian model. In the framework of his evolving universe, Poe makes use of contemporary astronomical knowledge, deriving modern concepts such as a primordial atomic state of the universe and a common epoch of galaxy formation. Harrison found in Eureka the first, qualitative solution of the Olbers' paradox; I show that Poe also applies in a modern way the anthropic principle, trying to explain why the Universe is so large.
Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Pub Date:
- June 1994
- HISTORY OF ASTRONOMY;