Writing in the November 10th issue of the journal Nature, astrophysicist Mario Livio of the Space Telescope Science Institute has put to bed a growing conspiracy theory about who was fairly credited for discovering the expanding universe.
For nearly a century, American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble has held the fame for this landmark discovery, which would recast all of 20th century astronomy. Hubble reported that the universe is uniformly expanding in all directions. It solved Einstein's dilemma of explaining why the universe didn't already collapse under its own gravity.
Ironically, Hubble never got a Nobel Prize for this discovery, though astronomers from two teams who independently uncovered evidence for an accelerating universe won the 2011 Noble Prize in Physics. But Hubble did get the most celebrated telescope of modern history named after him.
Hubble published his landmark paper in which he determined the rate of expansion of the universe in 1929. This was based on the apparent recessional velocities (deduced from redshifts) of galaxies, as previously measured by astronomer Vesto Slipher, coupled to distances to the same galaxies, as determined by Hubble.
Hubble's analysis showed that the farther the galaxy was, the faster it appeared to be receding. The rate of cosmic expansion is now known as the Hubble Constant.
But two years earlier, a Belgian priest and cosmologist, Georges Lemaître, published very similar conclusions, and he calculated a rate of expansion similar to what Hubble would publish two years later.
Lemaître based his analysis on Slipher's same redshift data, which he combined with estimates of galaxy distances inferred from Hubble's 1926 published observations.
But Lemaître's discovery went unnoticed because it was published in French, in a rather obscure Belgian science journal called the Annales de la Société Scientifique de Bruxelles (Annals of the Brussels Scientific Society).
The story would have ended there, except that Lemaître's work was later translated and published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. When published in 1931, some of Lemaître's own calculations from 1927, of what would be later called the Hubble Constant, were omitted!
The fact that paragraphs were missing from the translated paper has been known (although not widely) since 1984. There has been persistent speculation among astronomers over "who dunnit?" Did the Monthly Notices editors cut the paragraphs out? Did Edwin Hubble himself have an influencing hand and censor the paper to eliminate any doubt that he was the original discoverer of the expanding universe?
After going through hundreds of pieces of correspondence of the Royal Astronomical Society, as well as minutes of the RAS meetings, and material from the Lemaître Archive, Livio has discovered that Lemaître omitted the passages himself when he translated the paper into English!
In one of two "smoking-gun letters" uncovered by Livio, Lemaître wrote to the editors: "I did not find advisable to reprint the provisional discussion of radial velocities which is clearly of no actual interest, and also the geometrical note, which could be replaced by a small bibliography of ancient and new papers on the subject."
The remaining question is why Lemaître essentially erased evidence for credit due to him, for first discovering (at least tentatively) the expanding universe.
Livio concludes, "Lemaître's letter also provides an interesting insight into the scientific psychology of some of the scientists of the 1920s. Lemaître was not at all obsessed with establishing priority for his original discovery. Given that Hubble's results had already been published in 1929, he saw no point in repeating his more tentative earlier findings again in 1931."
Perhaps in some alternative history parallel universe, people are marveling at the deep-space pictures from the Lemaître Space Telescope.For images and more information, visit:
Ray Villard | Newswise Science News
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope completes final cryogenic testing
21.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Previous evidence of water on mars now identified as grainflows
21.11.2017 | US Geological Survey
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Life Sciences