A fascinating film by physicist Georges Lemaître has emerged recently and offers a rare look at one of cosmology's pioneers.
By typing “James Peebles' video” into your preferred search engine, you can find many videos where James Peebles talks about his work on the first moments of the universe. Most of today's scientists are filmed for online colloquia and seminars, but there are few videos of scientists who lived and worked before the advent of YouTube.
One of these enigmas resurfaced at the end of the previous year. This video features the only interview with Belgian physicist Georges Lemaître, who died in 1966. The idea of the big bang was first put forward by Lemaître in 1927. Peebles extended this idea in his work. The French interview was recently translated into English, giving a wider audience of scientists a unique opportunity to learn more about one of the founders of cosmology.
The film was discovered in the archives of the Belgian national broadcaster VRT (Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroeporganisatie). All but three minutes of the original February 14, 1964 broadcast were thought to have been lost in time.
But a 20-minute film resurfaced after the publisher found the film in a mislabeled carton. On 31 December 2022, VRT made the reel available to the public, captioning the French audio with Flemish text (Flemish and French are the two official languages of Belgium).
Lemaître's big bang theory received significant experimental support before the discovery of the cosmic microwave background, but the VRT interview was made years after Lemaître first presented his theory. While the interview provides a summary of the scientist's work on the big bang and a quick look at his ideas on other hypotheses, the reason for the talk is unclear as the introduction and first question were omitted from the video.
According to Peebles, in the 1930s even Lemaître and even Einstein “did not understand the application of Einstein's general theory of relativity to cosmology.”
Lemaître served as professor of physics at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, and was also ordained priest in 1923, three years after receiving his master's degree. The Vatican Observatory ordered one of its astronomers, Jean-Baptiste Kikwaya Eluo, to copy the film because of its association with a particular religion. The assistance of French astrophysicist Satya Gontcho at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California and Dominque Lambert, a Belgian theoretical physicist and philosopher at Namur University in Belgium and author of a book on Lemaître's life, was sought by native French speaker Kikwaya. .
The trio completed the transcription before translating it into English. “We wanted to make the interview accessible to the entire scientific community,” Gontcho said. Says a Gontcho.
Gontcho A Gontcho was particularly interested in the anthropological component of restoring a lost voice. He cites as an example the correspondence between Lemaître and Fred Hoyle that summarizes their perspectives on the formation of the universe. But his letters are straight. However, he states that what is displayed in the video is very lively. We can observe Lemaître's movements and hear him talk about his own work.
In one episode, Gontcho cites a quote that really caught Gontcho's attention when Lemaître discusses Hoyle's theories regarding the creation of hydrogen in the universe. At the time of the interview, Hoyle was a supporter of the now outdated steady-state theory of the universe, which assumed that the average matter density of the universe was and will always be constant. Steady-state theory proposed that the expansion resulted from the continuous production of hydrogen, which Lemaître claimed violated the laws of physics, to explain how the theory contradicted Edwin Hubble's observations that the universe is expanding.
This hydrogen appears completely unexpectedly, almost like a ghost. It's the kind of ghost you see in Scottish castles,” Lemaître translates for us. So, what can we expect from hydrogen that has arisen without an observable cause or regular connection? It can be expected to disappear in the same way as it appeared. This is how this theory was put forward.
Even in the context of outreach, the language used is emotional and very different from what a scientist uses today when presenting similar concepts. Gontcho Says Gontcho. It's fascinating to observe the evolution of the vocabulary we use when discussing scientific ideas.
Gontcho A Gontcho also formed a personal connection while listening to Lemaître's talk because his father had attended Jesuit schools where science instructors were priests. “This video gave me an insight into how their teachers talk and how they carry themselves – it adds dimension and color to them.”
At the end of the interview, Lemaître also discusses his perspective on the relations between science and religion and states that according to him, being a priest and a scientist does not conflict. According to Peebles, “[Lemaître] is characteristically cautious about the function of God.”
Lambert shares this point of view and observes that Lemaître was very meticulous in his choice of words, carefully separating theological concepts (creation) from scientific ones (the beginning of the Universe). Lambert cites that Lemaître said that since science and religion deal with different degrees of knowledge, there is no logical tension between them.
Lambert argues that the idea that faith and science are incompatible is a relatively new idea and contradicts historical data. The idea that science and the priesthood are incompatible can be refuted by pointing to the Vatican Observatory or the large number of nuns who are also scientists (such as Gregor Mendel, Henri Breuil, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin).
Günceleme: 22/04/2023 13:43