Edwin Hubble and the Big Bang

Edwin HubbleOn this day in 1900, the cartoonist Chester Gould was born. He is best known as the creator of Dick Tracy. It is not one of my favorite strips. But one can’t deny that it is iconic: Roman nose and literally squared jaw. What’s more, Gould was a great illustrator. That’s especially true when you compare his work to the other strips of that period. I’ll go out on a limb here (Andrea’s sure to disagree!) but he was the Bill Watterson of his day.

The writer Alistair Cooke was born in 1908. I know him from two things. First, of course, as the host of Masterpiece Theatre where, on a weekly basis, he made millions of Americans think they were beneath the English. Second, he used to do audio essays on NPR that I enjoyed. I didn’t necessarily agree with him but he was always thoughtful, interesting, and amusing.

Robert F. Kennedy was born in 1925. That’s kind of amazing to think about. There’s a fair chance he would be alive today if he hadn’t been assassinated. I’m not so convinced that he would have actually beat Nixon in 1968, however. In general, elections are won and lost on the fundamentals. But it is quite something to think about: a second Kennedy administration and no Nixon? Who knows where we would have gone from there. Maybe no Reagan. We might have a much better nation today.

One of the greatest guitarist ever, Duane Allman was born in 1946. Here he is at the Fillmore East just a year before his death doing “Whipping Post.” Allman is the blond guitarist; Dickey Betts is the brunet, who is pretty damned great himself.

Other birthdays: physicist Otto von Guericke (1602); painter Christian Wilberg (1839); actor Richard Dawson (1932); comedian Dick Smothers (74); two beauties: Bo Derek (57) and Sean Young (54); and screenwriter Larry Karaszewski (52).

The day, however, belongs to the great astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born on this day in 1889. He is known for his observational research showing that the further away a galaxy is from us, the greater its redshift, or speed moving away from us. This indicates that the universe is expanding and is the first experimental finding in support of the Big Bang theory. Although there is no doubt about Hubble’s importance (he did a lot of other work too), the theoretical work associated with this particular finding was actually published two years earlier by Georges Lemaitre. I don’t think there is question but that Lemaitre was a great theoretical astrophysicist and Hubble was a great experimentalist. But we really ought to name some important stuff after Lemaitre. (I actually have a lot more to say about Lemaitre than Hubble. Oh well.)

Happy birthday Edwin Hubble!


Happy 71st Joe Biden! Drink a cool one for me!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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