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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index L > Monsignor Georges Lemaître Quotes

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Monsignor Georges Lemaître
(17 Jul 1894 - 20 Jun 1966)

Belgian astronomer and cosmologist who originated (1927) the modern big-bang theory for the origin of the universe.


Science Quotes by Monsignor Georges Lemaître (4 quotes)

As far as I see, such a theory [of the primeval atom] remains entirely outside any metaphysical or religious question. It leaves the materialist free to deny any transcendental Being. He may keep, for the bottom of space-time, the same attitude of mind he has been able to adopt for events occurring in non-singular places in space-time. For the believer, it removes any attempt to familiarity with God, as were Laplace's chiquenaude or Jeans' finger. It is consonant with the wording of Isaiah speaking of the 'Hidden God' hidden even in the beginning of the universe ... Science has not to surrender in face of the Universe and when Pascal tries to infer the existence of God from the supposed infinitude of Nature, we may think that he is looking in the wrong direction.
— Monsignor Georges Lemaître
'The Primeval atom Hypothesis and the Problem of Clusters of Galaxies', in R. Stoops (ed.), La Structure et l'Evolution de l'Univers (1958), 1-32. Trans. Helge Kragh, Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe (1996), 60.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (251)  |  Attitude (47)  |  Belief (400)  |  Bible (83)  |  Event (97)  |  Existence (254)  |  God (454)  |  Infinity (59)  |  Sir James Jeans (30)  |  Pierre-Simon Laplace (50)  |  Materialist (4)  |  Metaphysics (30)  |  Blaise Pascal (36)  |  Religion (210)  |  Space-Time (14)  |  Theory (582)  |  Transcendental (3)  |  Universe (563)

If the world has begun with a single quantum, the notions of space and would altogether fail to have any meaning at the beginning; they would only begin to have a sensible meaning when the original quantum had been divided into a sufficient number of quanta. If this suggestion is correct, the beginning of the world happened a little before the beginning of space and time. I think that such a beginning of the world is far enough from the present order of Nature to be not at all repugnant. It may be difficult to follow up the idea in detail as we are not yet able to count the quantum packets in every case. For example, it may be that an atomic nucleus must be counted as a unique quantum, the atomic number acting as a kind of quantum number. If the future development of quantum theory happens to turn in that direction, we could conceive the beginning of the universe in the form of a unique atom, the atomic weight of which is the total mass of the universe. This highly unstable atom would divide in smaller and smaller atoms by a kind of super-radioactive process.
— Monsignor Georges Lemaître
'The Beginning of the World from the Point of View of Quantum Theory', Nature (1931), 127, 706.
Science quotes on:  |  Atomic Number (3)  |  Big Bang (38)  |  Nucleus (30)  |  Origin Of The Universe (13)  |  Quantum Theory (55)

Scientific progress is the discovery of a more and more comprehensive simplicity... The previous successes give us confidence in the future of science: we become more and more conscious of the fact that the universe is cognizable.
— Monsignor Georges Lemaître
In O. Godart and M. Heller (eds.), Cosmology of Lemaitre (1985), 162.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (591)  |  Progress (317)  |  Scientific Progress (12)  |  Simplicity (126)  |  Success (202)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Universe (563)

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.
— Monsignor Georges Lemaître
'La formation des nebuleuses dans l'univers en expansion', Comptes Rendus (1933), 196, 903-4. Trans. Helge Kragh, Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe (1996), 52.
Science quotes on:  |  Big Bang (38)  |  Expansion (25)  |  Mass (61)  |  Origin Of The Universe (13)  |  Space (154)



Quotes by others about Monsignor Georges Lemaître (1)

I was there when Abbe Georges Lemaître first proposed this [Big Bang] theory. ... There is no rational reason to doubt that the universe has existed indefinitely, for an infinite time. .... It is only myth that attempts to say how the universe came to be, either four thousand or twenty billion years ago.
[Expressing his belief that the Big Bang is a myth devised to explain creation. He said he heard Lemaître (who was, at the time both a member of the Catholic hierarchy and an accomplished scientist) say in private that this theory was a way to reconcile science with St. Thomas Aquinas' theological dictum of creatio ex nihilo—creation out of nothing.]
Quoted in Anthony L. Peratt, 'Dean of the Plasma Dissidents', Washington Times, supplement: The World and I (May 1988),196.
Science quotes on:  |  Saint Thomas Aquinas (15)  |  Attempt (94)  |  Big Bang (38)  |  Creatio Ex Nihilo (2)  |  Creation (211)  |  Dictum (5)  |  Doubt (121)  |  Exist (89)  |  Indefinitely (9)  |  Infinite (88)  |  Myth (43)  |  Rational (42)  |  Reason (330)  |  Theology (35)  |  Theory (582)  |  Time (439)  |  Universe (563)


See also:
  • 17 Jul - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Lemaître's birth.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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