Georges Lemaître and the Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the origins of the universe. It states that the universe began as an infinitely hot and dense point, known as a singularity, and has been expanding ever since. The theory was first proposed by Belgian Catholic priest and physicist Georges Lemaître in the early 20th century.

The Early Life and Career of Georges Lemaître

  • Georges Lemaître was born in 1894 in Belgium and studied at the Catholic University of Louvain where he earned degrees in mathematics and engineering. He later studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, where he earned a PhD in physics. After that, he returned to the Catholic University of Louvain where he became a professor of physics.

Lemaître’s Contributions to Cosmology

  • Lemaître is best known for his contributions to the field of cosmology. In 1927, he published a paper in which he first theorized that the recession of nearby galaxies could be explained by an expanding universe. This theory was later observationally confirmed by Edwin Hubble. Lemaître also derived what is now known as the Hubble-Lemaître law, which states that the farther away a galaxy is from us, the faster it is moving away from us. This law is still used by cosmologists to understand the motion of galaxies.
  • In addition to these contributions, Lemaître also proposed the “Big Bang theory” of the origin of the universe, which he called the “hypothesis of the primeval atom.” He later referred to it as “the beginning of the world.” The Big Bang theory was initially met with skepticism, but it eventually gained widespread acceptance as more and more observational evidence supported it.

Lost Interview Rediscovered

  • In February 1964, Lemaître gave an interview to a Belgian broadcaster, which was subsequently thought to be lost. However, on December 31, 2022, the broadcaster reported that it had rediscovered the video, which had been misclassified. On January 17, researchers in the U.S. published a transcript of the interview online, with an English translation. The interview is thought to be Lemaître’s last public lecture.
  • In the interview, Lemaître discussed the arguments by which the Big Bang theory replaced steady state theory, under which some scientists, such as Fred Hoyle, claimed that the universe was static. He also responded to a question about what the Big Bang theory implies for his religious beliefs by focusing on the moment of the universe’s creation.

Synopsis

Georges Lemaître was a pioneering cosmologist who made significant contributions to our understanding of the origins and evolution of the universe. His work laid the foundation for the Big Bang theory, which remains the most widely accepted explanation for the origins of the universe. The rediscovered interview with Lemaître provides insight into his thoughts on the Big Bang theory and its implications for his religious beliefs.

Written by IAS POINT

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