Edgar Allan Poe: the first man to conceive a Newtonian evolving Universe

Paolo Molaro, Alberto Cappi
The notion that we live in an evolving universe was established only in the twentieth century with the discovery of the recession of galaxies by Hubble and with the Lemaitre and Friedmann’s interpretation in the 1920s.
However, the concept of an evolving universe is intrinsically tied to the law of universal gravitation, and it is surprising that it remained unrecognized for more than two centuries.
A remarkable exception to this lack of awareness is represented by Poe.
In Eureka (1848), the writer developed a conception of an evolving universe following the reasoning that a physical universe cannot be static and nothing can stop stars or galaxies from collapsing on each other.
Unfortunately this literary work was, and still is, very little understood both by the literary critics and scientists of the time.
We will discuss Poe’s cosmological views in their historical scientific context, highlighting the remarkable insights of the writer, such as those dealing with the Olbers paradox, the existence of other galaxies and of a multi-universe.