Georges Lemaitre

After a classical education at a Jesuit secondary school, the Collège du Sacré-Coeur, in Charleroi , Lemaître began studying civil engineering at the Catholic University of Leuven at the age of 17. In 1914, he interrupted his studies to serve as an artillery officer in the Belgian army for the duration of World War I . At the end of hostilities, he received the Belgian War Cross with palms.

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In 1925, on his return to Belgium, he became a part-time lecturer at the Catholic University of Leuven. He then began the report which brought him international fame when he published it in 1927 in the Annales de la Société Scientifique de Bruxelles (Annals of the Scientific Society of Brussels) under the title "Un Univers homogène de masse constante et de rayon croissant rendant compte de la vitesse radiale des nébuleuses extragalactiques" ("A homogeneous Universe of constant mass and growing radius accounting for the radial velocity of extragalactic nebulae"). In this report, he presented his new idea of an expanding universe, derived from General Relativity and later known as Hubble's law, and provided the first observational estimation of the Hubble constant but not yet that of the primeval atom. Instead, the initial state was taken as Einstein's own finite-size static universe model. The paper had little impact because the journal in which it was published was not widely read by astronomers outside Belgium; Arthur Eddington reportedly helped translate his article into English in 1931, but the part of it pertaining to the estimation of the "Hubble constant" was not included in the translation for reasons that have never been properly explained.

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