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Home / Science / Hot debate over renaming the Hubble Law – "Not the first to discover the expansion of the universe"

Hot debate over renaming the Hubble Law – "Not the first to discover the expansion of the universe"



Posted on September 1, 2018

The expansion of the universe was one of the most overwhelming discoveries of the 20th century. Astronomers are conducting a lively debate over plans to rename one of the most amazing laws of physics. It originated overnight in Vienna at the 30th International Astronomical Union (IAU) meeting in Vienna, where members of the General Assembly discussed a resolution amending the Hubble Law on the Hubble-Lemaître Act.

The resolution aims to attribute the work of the Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaître and his contribution, along with the American astronomer Edwin Hubble, to our understanding of the expansion of the universe.

While Most (But Not All) Members At the meeting that was for the resolution, it was decided to give all members of the International Astronomical Union a choice. Subsequently, the election was downgraded to a mocking mood and the decision will be formally voted on later by an electronic vote.

Following the criticism of the 2006 IAU general meeting, the electronic codetermination of all members was introduced Defining a planet on which Pluto was banished to a dwarf planet was approved

But the change of the Hubble name Law raises the question of who should be honored in naming the laws of physics and whether the IAU should be included in any decision.

Expansion here means that the distance between galaxies generally increases with time and increases evenly. It does not matter where you are and which way you look, you still see a universe expanding.

If you really believe it all, you can end up with a headspin or even satirical ending by Woody Allen in his movie Annie Hall.

The speed at which the universe is currently expanding is described by the Hubble Law, named after Edwin Hubble, who published an article in 1

929 that described astronomical data as an expansion of the universe.

Back in 1927, Georges Lemaître had published an article about the expansion of the universe. His article was written in French and published in a Belgian journal. Lemaître provided a theoretical foundation for the expansion of the universe and used the astronomical data (the same data Hubble used in his 1929 article) to determine the speed at which the universe expands.

In 1928, the American mathematician and physicist Howard Robertson published an article in Philosophical Magazine and the Journal of Science, in which he derived the formula for the expansion of the universe and derived the expansion rate from the same data that Lemaître (a Year ago) and Hubble (a year earlier) had used afterwards.

Robertson knew nothing of Lemaîte's work. Given the limited popularity of the Belgian journal, in which Lemaîtres article appeared, and the French language used, it was argued that his remarkable discovery at that time largely went unnoticed by the astronomical community.

However, the results published by Hubble in 1929 were most likely influenced by Lemaître. In July 1928, Lemaître and Hubble met at the 3rd meeting of the International Astronomical Union in Leiden. During the meeting, they discussed the astronomical evidence that pointed to the expansion of the universe.

In January 1930, English astronomer, physicist and mathematician Arthur Eddington, at the Royal Astronomical Society meeting in London, introduced the problem of the expansion of the universe and the absence of any theory that could satisfactorily explain this phenomenon.

When Lemaître learned about it, he wrote to Eddington to remind him of his 1927 work, in which he laid the theoretical foundation for the expansion of the universe. Eddington invited Lemaître to re-publish the translation of the newspaper in Monthly Reports of the Royal Astronomical Society.

In the meantime, Hubble and the American astronomer Milton Humason published new findings on the expansion of the universe in the Astrophysical Journal. This time the sample was larger, reaching regions more than ten times larger than before.

These new measurements made previous measurements of the expansion of the universe superfluous. As he worked on the translation, Lemaître removed from his article the paragraphs in which he appreciated the speed of the expansion of the universe.

As a result of this change, for people who were unfamiliar with the earlier work of Lemaître or Robertson, it looked like Hubble was the first to discover the expansion of the universe.

Lemaître was obviously not interested in prioritizing his original discovery. Consequently, the formula describing today's rate of expansion bears the name Hubble.

The decision of the executive committee of the IAU wants to change the name to the Hubble-Lemaître law to honor Lemaître and to recognize his role in it -11871 / The IAU, founded in 1919, has set itself the goal of standardizing the naming of celestial objects and their definitions: from small asteroids to planets and constellations

The IAU consists of individual members (more than 12,000 people from 101 countries) and national members (79 different academies of sciences or national astronomical societies). The decisions taken by the IAU have no legislative power, but they say:

The names endorsed by the IAU represent the consensus of professional astronomers around the world and national academies of science, known as "individual members" and "national members", respectively. comply with the guidelines of the International Astronomical Union.

It is therefore reasonable to expect that the new name will find wider application in the event of later adoption.

This resolution has serious implications. It seeks to honor Lemaître for his involvement in one of the most fundamental discoveries about the behavior of our Universe. At the same time, the resolution can set a precedent for future action.

Will this change further? Will other disciplines follow the example of astronomers? Science is full of laws, effects, equations, and constants that in many cases do not bear the names of their rightful discoverers. Some people worry that in such cases, it would take a lot of effort and time to lend the loan due. Others will welcome this precedent and eagerly wait for Henrietta Swan Leavitt to finally discover the period-luminosity relationship.

So far we have to wait for the result of the electronic vote.

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