Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Thursday 29 July |
Saint of the Day: Sts Martha, Mary and Lazarus of Bethany
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Google Doodle honors Fr. Georges Lemaitre, the priest behind the Big Bang Theory

Daniel Esparza - published on 07/17/18

Lemaître’s theory was ignored at first probably because it was published in a scientific periodical little read outside Belgium.

Google’s famous Doodle for July 17th celebrates what would’ve been the 124th birth anniversary of the famed Belgian astronomer, Father Georges Lemaitre, best known for formulating the modern Big Bang Theory in 1927.

In an article published in the Tablet in 2008, John Farrell, author of The Day Without Yesterday: Lemaître, Einstein and the Birth of Modern Cosmology, explains that the reason part of the scientific community rejected Lemaître’s theory was that he was (allegedly) looking for a religious explanation for the beginning of the universe. However, there is also a consensus that this was not the case, since “Lemaître was much too good a scientist to let his religious beliefs influence his scientific research and reasoning.”


GEORGES LEMAITRE

Read more:
These 5 Catholic scientists shaped our understanding of the world

After attending the Jesuit College of the Sacred Heart in Coleroi, Lemaître studied civil engineering at the Catholic University of Leuven, but he had to interrupt his studies as the First World War broke out; he became an artillery officer in the Belgian army, receiving the Croix de Guerre for his services. But during the war, he read Henri Poincaré’s Électricité et Optique; it impressed him enough to change his career, and he decided to study physics and math as he returned to the university.

While Lemaître was studying science, he was also called to embrace the priesthood, and it was precisely thanks to his teachers at the seminary that he became acquainted with Einstein’s work. He was ordained a priest in 1923, three years after he got his doctorate in Leuven. That same year he won a scholarship to Cambridge University, where he studied under the famous astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington, who introduced him to the latest research in cosmology and astronomy, as Maye explains in his note.




Read more:
Why Catholics Love Evolution and the Big Bang

Lemaître moved on to work with the American astronomer Harlow Shapley at Harvard University. While in the US, he completed a second doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he also worked with Vesto Slipher and Edwin Hubble, two other American astronomers, assembling proofs and data. In 1927, he put forward his ground-breaking idea of an expanding universe (in the process deriving what we call Hubble’s Law two years before Hubble himself did).

Lemaître’s theory was ignored at first, Maye thinks, probably because it was published in a scientific periodical little read outside Belgium. Eddington, his former teacher, did not comment on it and Einstein himself (who was already friends with Lemaître) was reluctant to support this extension of his theory of general relativity. But, as Maye explains, when Hubble published his findings in 1929, Einstein and Eddington were forced to rethink their own ideas.

Tags:
CatholicismScienceSocial Media
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
ORGAN
J-P Mauro
Reconstructing a 12th-century pipe organ discovered in the Holy L...
2
HIDILYN DIAZ
Cerith Gardiner
Gold-winning Filipina Olympian shares her Miraculous Medal for th...
3
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
4
Joachim and Anne
Philip Kosloski
Did Jesus know his grandparents?
5
PRINCESS DIANA AND MOTHER TERESA
Mathilde De Robien
Did you know Princess Di was buried with a rosary?
6
morning
Philip Kosloski
This morning prayer is easy to memorize
7
SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been know...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.