Georges Lemaître, inventor of the primeval atom, known as the Big Bang
In the early 1930s, George Lemaître introduced virtually all the great ideas necessary to understanding the best astronomical and astrophysical data.
Born on 17 July 1894 in Charleroi, he became an astronomer, physicist and professor at the University of Leuven. His "Hypothesis of the Primeval Atom", which aims to explain the origin of the Universe, was the basis for the Big Bang theory.
At the start of the First World War, he joined the 5th volunteer corps and saw action at the Battle of the Yser. After four years of war, decorated with the Croix de Guerre, he left the army as a warrant officer and resumed his studies in mathematics and the physical sciences.
In 1922, he wrote a dissertation on "The Physics of Einstein" which won him a government scholarship. He wrote his first scientific article in August 1923 and in the same year, was admitted to Cambridge University as a research student.
In 1927, Lemaître met Einstein during the fifth Solvay Conference at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). The two men would remain friends.
In 1933, the year when he resumed and further developed the theory of the expansion of the universe, Lemaître would experience his greatest glory. The American newspapers called him the "famous Belgian scientist" and he would be described as the leader of new cosmological physics.
At the same time, Lemaître produced a "Hypothesis of the Primeval Atom", the beginning of time in the universe. This theory was ironically called the "Big Bang" by Fred Hoyle, an English astrophysicist who always defended the controversial idea that the universe did not result from a hypothetical explosion. In 1949, during a radio broadcast, this name stuck. Lemaître also suspected that cosmic radiation bore traces of these initial events.
At the end of his life, he increasingly dedicated himself to numerical computation. He was in fact an outstanding calculator, algebraist and arithmetician.