FNTC Study Guide – Biographies


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Edwin Powell Hubble Biography

Edwin Hubble was an American astronomer who played a crucial role in establishing the field of extragalactic astronomy and is generally regarded as one of the most important observational cosmologists of the 20th century. Hubble is known for showing that the recessional velocity of a galaxy increases with its distance from the earth, implying the universe is expanding. Known as “Hubble’s law,” this relation had been discovered previously by Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian priest/astronomer who published his work in a less visible journal. There is still much controversy surrounding the issue and some argue that it should be referred to as “Lemaitre’s law” although this change has not taken hold in the astronomy community.[10]



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Albert Einstein Biography

Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics).While best known for his mass-energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed “the world’s most famous equation”), he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect. The latter was pivotal in establishing quantum theory.[8]

Fr. Georges Lemaître Biography

Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître was a Belgian priest, astronomer, and professor of physics at the Catholic University of Louvain. He was the first person to propose the theory of the expansion of the Universe, widely misattributed to Edwin Hubble. He was also the first to derive what is now known as Hubble’s law and made the first estimation of what is now called the Hubble constant, which he published in 1927, two years before Hubble’s article. Lemaître also proposed what became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe, which he called his ‘hypothesis of the primeval atom.'[9]



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Dr. Arvind Borde Biography

Dr. Arvind Borde is the Senior Professor in the Department of Mathematics at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. He was Visiting Scientist at the Institute of Cosmology, Tufts University from 1993–2006. He was Visiting Scientist at the Center for Theoretical Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2001–2002. He was a Scholar at the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara from 2007—2009. He is a co-formulator of the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Proof for a beginning of the universe (and all multiverses).

Dr. Alexander Vilenkin Biography

Dr. Alexander Vilenkin is Professor of Physics and Director of the Institute of Cosmology at Tufts University. A theoretical physicist who has been working in the field of cosmology for 25 years, Vilenkin has written over 150 papers and is responsible for introducing the ideas of eternal inflation… His work in cosmic strings has been pivotal.[19] He is a co-formulator of the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Proof for a beginning of the universe (and all multiverses).

Dr. Alan Harvey Guth Biography

Dr. Alan Harvey Guth is an American theoretical physicist and cosmologist. Guth has researched elementary particle theory (and how particle theory is applicable to the early universe). Currently serving as Victor Weisskopf, Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he is the originator of the inflationary universe theory…. At Stanford University, Guth formally proposed the idea of cosmic inflation in 1981, the idea that the nascent universe passed through a phase of exponential expansion that was driven by a positive vacuum energy density (negative vacuum pressure). The results of the WMAP mission in 2006 made the case for cosmic inflation very compelling.[20] He is a co-formulator of the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Proof for a beginning of the universe (and all multiverses).



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Dr. Roger Penrose Biography

Sir Roger Penrose OM, FRS, is an English mathematical physicist, mathematician and philosopher. He is the Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute of the University of Oxford, as well as an Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College. Penrose is internationally renowned for his scientific work in mathematical physics, in particular for his contributions to general relativity and cosmology. He has received a number of prizes and awards, including the 1988 Wolf Prize for physics, which he shared with Stephen Hawking for their contribution to our understanding of the universe.[26] He is also known for his calculation of the enormous odds against the low entropy of our universe at the Big Bang.

Dr. Richard Tolman Biography

Richard Chace Tolman was an American mathematical physicist and physical chemist who was an authority on statistical mechanics. He also made important contributions to theoretical cosmology in the years soon after Einstein’s discovery of general relativity. He was a professor of physical chemistry and mathematical physics at the California Institute of Technology.[25] He is well known for his proof against an eternal bouncing universe.



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Sir Fred Hoyle Biography

Sir Fred Hoyle was an English astronomer noted primarily for his contribution to the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis and his often controversial stance on other cosmological and scientific matters—in particular his rejection of the “Big Bang” theory [he later retracted this rejection]. Hoyle spent most of his working life at the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge and served as its director for a number of years.[38] He was known for changing his atheistic views to a conviction about a “super calculating intellect” responsible for the constants of physics, chemistry, and biology.



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Penzias / Wilson Biographies

Dr. Arno Penzias (b. 1933 in Germany) fled, at age six, with his family to the U.S. to escape the Nazis. He became a U.S. citizen in 1946, and earned his Ph.D. in physics in 1962 from Columbia University. In 1964, with Robert Wilson, Penzias encountered unexplained radio noise coming equally from every part of the sky while using the Bell Labs radio telescope in Holmden, New Jersey. They realized it was Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation remaining from the Big Bang, confirming that it had occurred. Both Penzias and Wilson received the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics.


[8] Wikipedia 2013 “Albert Einstein” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Lemaitre
[9] Wikipedia 2013 “Georges Lemaitre” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lemaitre
[10] Wikipedia 2012 “Edwin Hubble” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Hubble
[19] Wikipedia 2013 “Alexander Vilenkin” http://en.wikipedia.org/wikiAlexander_Vilenkin
[20] Wikipedia 2013 “Alan Guth” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Guth
[25] Wikipedia 2013 “Richard Tolman” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_C._Tolman
[26] Wikipedia 2013 “Roger Penrose” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Penrose
[38] Wikipedia 2013 “Fred Hoyle” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Hoyle

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