Fr. Georges Lemaître.

Fr. Georges Lemaître and the Big Bang Theory

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  • March 20, 2014

The Big Bang has captured the scientific and popular mind as the spectacular beginning of the entire universe. There is even an eponymous sitcom which, to judge from what is available on airplanes, might just be the most popular television program ever made.

The Big Bang. At one moment there was nothing and then the next moment — bang! — it was there, an explosive mix of all that would become, slowly but inexorably, all that is. There is a certain romance in the tale, confirming the intuition that the grandness of all that exists — the grandness of existence itself — must have had a magnificent beginning, a moment of unsurpassed power, a sudden appearance glorious and radiant. And in order to be an account of the origin of everything, it would have to appear suddenly, immediately, instantly.

That imaginative allure and scientific solidity of the Big Bang got a big boost with empirical results announced March 17 by astronomers in Cambridge, Mass., using results from an Antarctic telescope. The theory holds that after the Big Bang, the universe expanded within moments to perhaps 100 trillion times in size. Hence the bigness of the bang. The rapid, near instantaneous expansion of the universe explains how something so unimaginably large behaves in a rather uniform way. It explains, in short, why astrophysics is possible, why the laws of physics operate in one place as they do in another. The researchers reported that they discovered gravitational waves, analogous to “ripples” in space that are the consequence of the massive expansion that took place at the Big Bang.

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