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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Georges Lemaître – Father of the Big Bang Theory


In January 1933, George Lemaître traveled with Albert Einstein to California for a series of seminars. After Lemaître detailed his Big Bang theory, Einstein stood up and said, "This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened."


Fr. Georges Lemaître was born July 17, 1894, Charleroi, Belgium. He died June 20, 1966, in Leuven. He was a Roman Catholic priest and professor of physics at Leuven, generated what has come to be called the Big Bang Theory. As to the perennial feud between reason and religion, he states: “Once you realize that the Bible does not purport to be a textbook of science, the old controversy between religion and science vanishes…"

Lemaître's big-bang theory holds that the universe began in a cataclysmic explosion of a small, primeval “superatom.” He later called this the "Cosmic Egg" and some find it humorous to call Lemaitre the "father" of the Cosmic Egg.  

Lemaître never referred to his theory as the "Big Bang." It was Fred Hoyle, an astronomer at Cambridge, who coined the term "Big Bang." Hoyle favored the "Steady State" conception of the universe, in which hydrogen atoms are continuously created and gradually coalesce into gas clouds, which then form stars.

Lemaître compared galaxies to the burning embers spreading out in a growing sphere from the center of the initial explosion. He believed this was the beginning of time, taking place on "a day without yesterday."


Commemorative plaque for Georges Lemaître at Premonstreit College in Leuven
Courtesy of Danar Abdulkarim


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