Georges Lemaître was an astronomer, a professor of physics and also a priest, well known for his part in formulating the big bang theory as we know it today.
Google Doodle celebrated today Mr. Lemaître’s 124th birthday in his honor.
Mr. Lemaître was the man who proposed the theoretical grounds according to which the universe was expanding. Later, Edwin Hubble confirmed observationally the theory – known as Hubble’s Law.
The Cosmic Egg
Georges Lemaître proposed the concept that the universe had to expand from an initial point, calling it the “primeval atom” or “the Cosmic Egg, exploding at the moment of the creation.” He presented the theory in 1931 in one of his academic papers, a theory we all know as the “Big Bang.”
Lemaître was born in Belgium. During his life, Lemaître studied at the age of 17 civil engineering at the Catholic University of Leuven. He interrupted his studies as he signed up to serve in the Belgian army during the first World War, where he was an artillery officer. After getting back from the war, he resumed his studies at the university, focusing on physics and maths, but he also prepared for the diocesan priesthood. In 1920, he completed his doctorate, and three years later, he was ordained as a priest. In 1923 he became a post-graduate student at the University of Cambridge, studying astronomy also spending a year at the Harvard College Observatory.
In 1925 he returned to Belgium and became a part-time lecturer at the Catholic University of Leuven. There, he started working on his research, where he published his theory about the expansion of the universe (1927). However, at that time, he didn’t link the notion to the theory of the “primeval atom.” Later, he connected the first theory with the second one.
In 1933 Lemaître went to seminars at the California Institute of Technology and met other famous scientists, including Albert Einstein. As Lemaître explained the theory of the creation of our universe to other scientists, Mr. Einstein said that:
“This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened.”
In 1936, Lemaître received the highest award from the French Astronomical Society: the Prix Jules Janssen. In 1941, he was elected a member of Belgium’s Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts. In 1953, he received from the Royal Astronomical Society the Eddington Medal.
After Pope Pius XII learned about Lemaître’s theories, he said that the theories validate Catholicism. However, Lemaître claimed that his theory of the universe was neutral and had no connection to his research and religion.
Mr Lemaître died at the age of 71, on 20 June 1966.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.