A pictorial-only interview with Georges Lemaitre, the “Father of the Big Bang,” rediscovered 60 years later
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The only known video interview with Belgian physicist Georges Lemaître, widely considered the “Father of the Big Bang,” speaking of the birth of the universe has been rediscovered nearly 60 years after it was lost.
Lemaitre (1894-1966) was a professor of physics at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and a practicing Catholic priest. In 1927, he was the first person to suggest that the movement galaxies away from a land was a sign of that being It was expanding, which was later confirmed by the American astronomer Edwin Hubble.
Lemaître was also the first to derive Hubble’s law, which states that galaxies are moving away from Earth at speeds proportional to their distance, though Hubble got all the credit at the time. (International Astronomical Union He renamed the idea the Hubble-Lemeter law (Opens in a new tab) in 2018.) In 1931, Lemaître proposed his “primordial atom hypothesis” to account for the expansion of the universe, which stated that the universe began from a single point, and then inspired what we now know as The Big Bang Theory.
Rediscovered Video (Opens in a new tab) Features Lemaître discussing his thoughts with journalist Jérôme Verhaghé during a Belgian television interview, broadcast on 14 February 1964. A small clip of the interview, about two minutes long, was widely available for decades, but the full 20-minute video clip has since been deemed lost. The disappearance of the film reel containing the footage shortly after the interview was broadcast.
But this reel turned out to be simply out of place.
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On December 29, 2022, the broadcaster of Belgium’s national service to the country’s Flemish-speaking community, Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroeporganisatie (VRT), announces: Reissued (Opens in a new tab) The video after it was discovered in the broadcaster’s archive. The film reel was lost because it was mislabeled and because Lemaitre misspelled the name on the label, VRT representatives wrote in a translated statement, making searching for it like “looking for a needle in a haystack”. (Flemish, also known as Flemish Dutch, is one of the three official languages of Belgium; it is spoken by people who live in the Flanders region in the north of the country.)
In the interview, Lumet speaks in French, with Flemish subtitles added to the video. In a new paper, uploaded Jan 19 to a prepress server arXiv (Opens in a new tab)A team of researchers translated the interview into English to make it more accessible to a wider audience.
“To the best of our knowledge, it is the only extant video interview with Georges Lemaitre,” the researchers wrote in the paper.
The video begins with Lemaître answering an unknown question that Verhaeghe likely asked during the introduction to the interview. While it’s unclear what these opening remarks were referring to, Lemaître quickly dived into how his primordial atom hypothesis differed from the steady-state model — the idea that the universe is always expanding but maintains a constant average density, with no beginning or end — which was Favorite view of the universe at the time.
Lemaître speaks at length about his rival Sir Fred Hoyle, the English physicist who was one of the most famous and fierce proponents of the steady-state model but who also accidentally coined the term “Big Bang”. Although he repeatedly called out Hoyle for being in the wrong during the interview, Lemaître indicated that he had “the greatest admiration” for his colleague’s work.
Lemaître explains that the steady-state model can only work if the hydrogen required to make stars appear “like a ghost” appears out of nowhere, which he said runs counter to the principle of conservation of energy, the notion that Energy is neither created nor destroyedonly switched from one type to another, which he described as “essentially the safest and most solid thing in physics.”
Instead, Lemaitre argues in the video, the expansion can be traced back to “the disintegration of all Thing in corn,” which created an “expanded plasma-filled space” through “a process we can only vaguely imagine.” “
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Lemaître also discusses the work and ideas of many famous academics, including French mathematician Élie Cartan, English astrophysicist Edward Arthur Milne, and Sir James Hopwood Jeans, the English physicist, astronomer, and mathematician who was another champion of the Steady State Model.
During the interview, Lemaître notes that the disclosure cosmic rays – High-energy particles or clusters of particles moving through space at nearly the speed of light, which Lemaître poetically described as “primordial fireworks rays” – will play an important role in proving their existence. theory. (Lemaître died shortly after learning of the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation, which occurred two years after the interview and was the first major piece of evidence for its authenticity.)
The priest-turned-physicist was also asked if his theories conflicted with his religious views, but explained that his research had no “ulterior religious motive” and that “the beginning [of the universe] so inconceivable” and “so different from the present state of the world” that he saw no reason to refute God’s involvement in creation.
The researchers who translated the French version into English are delighted to have played a part in making Lemaître’s only pictorial interview accessible to the astronomical community and the public.
Of all the people who came up with a frame Cosmology We’re working with now, there are very few recordings of how they talk about their work,” the study’s lead author said Satya Goncho A Goncho (Opens in a new tab)a physicist at the California Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said in a statement statment (Opens in a new tab). “To hear the ups and downs of phrase and how things were discussed…it’s like peeping through time.”
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