Augustine Pamplany CST
Google’s “doodle” on Tuesday, July 18 was of a great scientist and Roman Catholic Priest, Georges Lemaitre. Google was celebrating the 124th birthday of the Belgian priest. He is credited with the first definitive formulation of the Big Bang Theory.
Georges Lemaître was born on 17 July 1894 in Belgium. He studied at a Jesuit secondary school, and later joined the Catholic University of Leuven, for studying civil engineering. During the First World War he served as an artillery officer in the Belgian army. After the war, continued his studies in physics and maths, along with the preparations for priesthood. He was ordained a priest in 1923. He worked under the renowned astronomer Arthur Eddington at the University of Cambridge in England. Eddington introduced him to modern cosmology.
In 1927, he proposed a number of solutions to Einstein’s equations of relativity. It was at a meeting later in 1931, at the British Association in London to discuss the relationship between the physical universe and spirituality, that Lemaître presented his proposal that there must have been an initial point, or a primeval atom, “the Cosmic Egg, exploding at the moment of the creation.” Later he also argued that the recession of matter everywhere would imply that in the distant past it was bound together at an extremely compact state. The radioactive decay of this atom caused the big bang explosion and subsequent formation of galaxies. This view is later called as the big bang theory. Einstein was initially unconvinced about Lemaître’s idea of an expanding universe, commenting to Lemaitre, “Your math is correct, but your physics is abominable.” His theory was widely accepted by 1933 and he became a world-famous scientist. It is assumed that the remarks of Einstein in 1933 that “this is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened” was in direct reference to Lemaître’s theory.
During the conference in California in 1933, New York Times writer Duncan Aikman, took a picture of the two scientists together with the caption, “They have a profound respect and admiration for each other.” Aikman wrote: “‘There is no conflict between religion and science,’ Lemaitre has been telling audiences over and over again in this country …. His view is interesting and important not because he is a Catholic priest, not because he is one of the leading mathematical physicists of our time, but because he is both.”