It’s now the Hubble-Lemaître Law

Portrait_Georges_LemaitreIn a recent vote, the International Astronomical Union has decided to recognize the Belgian priest Fr. Georges Lemaître in its recommendation to rename the Hubble law:

The discovery of the apparent recession of galaxies is a founding pillar of modern cosmology and a major milestone of astronomical research. To acknowledge the scientific contributions of Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaître to the scientific theory of the expansion of the Universe, and by vote of its members, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has decided to recommend the Hubble law to be renamed as the Hubble–Lemaître law.

Fr. Lemaître was ordained by the great Cardinal Mercier, who founded the Higher Institute of Philosophy at the University of Louvain, Belgium. It was Mercier who encouraged Lemaître’s studies in physics and in particular Einstein’s theory of general relativity, as part of the Cardinal’s overall aim to place Catholic intellectuals at the highest levels of scientific research.

The rechristening of the law is also philosophically fitting insofar as it combines both observation and theory. It was Edwin Hubble who uncovered the phenomena of the recession of the galaxies, and it was Lemaître’s theory that accounted for it.

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