Monday, June 20, 2016

50th death anniversary of one of the greatest cosmologists of the 20th century

by Salman Hameed

There is a good chance that you have never heard of Georges Lemaître. But this is unfortunate. He figured out the expansion of the universe in 1927 - two years before Edwin Hubble, and also proposed the idea that later came to be known as the Big Bang. Furthermore, he complicates the traditional story of science versus religion, as he was a Belgian priest, and was critical of Pope Pious XII statement that Big Bang theory was a validation of the religious idea of the beginning of the universe. Instead, Lemaître was of the view that the Big Bang is a scientific idea that neither confirms or contradicts religious claims. He died fifty years ago on June 20th, 1966. By that time, the discovery of Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation had validated the basic idea of the Big Bang theory.

If you want to know more about Georges Lemaître, then check out this excellent book, The Day Without Yesterday: Lemaître, Einstein, and the Birth of Modern Cosmology, by our friend John Farrell. To commemorate Lemaître's achievements, John has put together a video (I also participated in it). Here it is:
The Greatest Scientist You've Never Heard Of from Farrellmedia on Vimeo.

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