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The gold universe is a theory in cosmology concerning the origin and future state of the physical universe that has been otherwise referred to as the Steady State theory, as well as the Infinite Universe theory. The theory proposes the idea that matter is being continuously generated or created as a direct result of the expansion of space. Proposed by the astrophysical researchers Fred Hoyle, Herman Bondi,, and Thomas Gold in 1948, the theory is sometimes referred to as the Bondi-Gold theory as well and is a direct alternative to the Big Bang theory, which has come to be the dominant model among astrophysicists for the nature of the universe as of 2011.
According to the gold universe model, physical reality is in a perpetual state of expansion, but the average density for matter in space is not changing. This is accomplished by the introduction of new matter into gold space, which coalesces into galaxies and stars at an identical rate to that of preexisting matter that becomes unobservable as it gets farther and farther away. The Steady State universe does not follow the same thermodynamic arrow of time that the Big Bang proposes. This idea states that the universe is like a clock slowly winding down over time as matter and energy become more and more dispersed, ultimately resulting in either total entropy and heat death, or a reverse effect known as the Big Crunch. Instead, the steady-state outlook is one of a gold universe with no beginning and no end in time and, therefore, no ultimate death or rebirth to the universe either.
While the gold universe outlook is not popular among researchers as of 2011, its basic theoretical assumptions are sound and fit within discoveries about the nature of an expanding universe made by Edwin Hubble and the dynamic nature of space revealed in general relativity theory by Albert Einstein. The physical cosmology principle for the creation of new matter in the gold universe is extremely small. To validate the theory, it is only necessary that approximately one hydrogen atom is created in every cubic meter of space once every billion years. Since no evidence of this has been observed, however, including the creation of heavier elements like lithium and helium, the steady-state theory is considered to have been discredited.
Detailed scientific debate between proponents of both the Big Bang and Steady State theories have pointed out flaws in both, though it is believed as of 2011 that eventually the parameters of the Big Bang theory will be refined to the point that its assertions become undeniable. Religious authorities also became involved in the debate early on, with Pope Pious XII of the Catholic church announcing in 1952 that the Big Bang theory was in agreement with Christian dogma. This was due to the fact that a Steady State view of a universe with no beginning or end in time was seen in some ways as denying the existence of God's creative power and, therefore, being atheistic. Atheistic or communist societies at the time, however, like that of the Soviet Union, had astronomers seeing both sides of the debate as overly idealistic in their views and inherently flawed.