Georges Lemaitre was a Belgian mathematician, physicist and Catholic priest who conceived the Big Bang model for the origin of the cosmos. Historical research over the past decade has not only shown how central was Lemaitre’s role in the early 20th century search for cosmic origins, but also illuminates the unique difficulties Lemaitre faced in defending his scientific model in view of his very public profession as priest. I will use this fascinating piece of 20th century scientific history to provide a perspective on the present day polemics regarding the interaction of science and religion.
This lecture is part of the St. Albert the Great Forum, co-sponsored with the Cornell Catholic Community.
Jonathan Lunine is the David C. Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences and Director of the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science. He has done astrophysical and planetary research for more than 30 years and has been involved in a number of NASA missions, including Cassini to Saturn and the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope. Dr. Lunine earned a B.S. in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Rochester and holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in planetary science from the California Institute of Technology. He is author of two textbooks and co-editor of a book, “Frontiers of Astrobiology” (Cambridge, 2012), based on a Study Week on Astrobiology held by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Vatican City, in 2009.
He is a co-founder of the The Society of Catholic Scientists.