Georges Lemaître and the hypothesis of the primeval atom

Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître‘ was a Belgian priest born in the 19th century, and is evidence that despite being devoutly religious, you can believe in god and separate that belief from science and reality. As well as being a priest, he was a professor of physics at the Catholic University of Leuven, and a keen cosmologist. During World War I he served as an artillery officer in the Belgian army, and when the war ended he studied to become a priest and was ordained in 1923. Between 1925 and 1927 he studied solar physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in America and obtained his Ph.D, and where he studied the works of ‘Edwin Hubble‘, and his ‪theories surrounding an expanding universe, which he’d observed through an extremely powerful telescope at Mt. Wilson in California‬

Georges Lemaître 07/17/1894 – 06/20/1966

Upon his return to Belgium he proposed that due to the neighbouring galaxies moving away from us in different directions, then an obvious conclusion would be a massive cosmic force and he proposed the Big Bang theory using ‘Albert Einstein’s’ theory of general relativity that he published 11 years prior. Georges never actually referred to the cosmic event as the Big Bang as he named it ‘hypothesis of the primeval atom’. Albert Einstein disregarded George’s theory as nonsense, but in later life he considered it as one of the most important theories in science. of the primeval atom’. His theory was in simple terms that to explain why the universe was expanding, it must have had a point of origin where everything within the universe was packed within an object of infinite density. This object of infinite density is what he described as the primeval atom.

“The radius of space began at zero; the first stages of the expansion consisted of a rapid expansion determined by the mass of the initial atom, almost equal to the present mass of the universe. If this mass is sufficient, and the estimates which we can make indicate that this is indeed so, the initial expansion was able to permit the radius to exceed the value of the equilibrium radius. The expansion thus took place in three phases: a first period of rapid expansion in which the atom-universe was broken into atomic stars, a period of slowing-down, followed by a third period of accelerated expansion. It is doubtless in this third period that we find ourselves today, and the acceleration of space which followed the period of slow expansion could well be responsible for the separation of stars into extra-galactic nebulae.” – Georges Lemaître

‪Whilst Georges Lemaître was a devout believer, he was a scientist as heart, and he said that through religion and science he had two avenues to search for the truth, but they must always be kept separate. You can’t help but admire a religious person who rejects the idea of creationism and accepts that science is the answer to the birth of the universe. I read that he once said that if the theory of relativity was a creation of god, it would have been declared in the Bible. When he first published his theory, it received little attention, and it wasn’t until the prominent English astronomer ‘Arthur Eddington‘ had it translated and published in the ‘Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society‘ in 1931. It wasn’t until 18 years later that astronomer ‘Fred Hoyle’ mockingly called it the ‘Big Bang’ and that name stuck.‬

In 1929, ‘Edwin Hubble‘ proposed the Hubble constant, which is a theory that the further away galaxies are from Earth, the faster they are moving away, and this was originally known as Hubble’s law, but in 2018, scientists voted to rename it to ‘Hubble–Lemaître law‘, due to Georges Lemaître proposing it, and Hubble refining it.