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Father of Big Bang Theory appears in newly resurfaced video

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John Burger - published on 01/31/23

Fr. Georges Lemaître, Belgian cosmologist, discusses religious implications in 1964 TV interview.

What is believed to be the only existing recording of the priest who formulated the “Big Bang” theory has surfaced in Belgium.

Fr. Georges Lemaître, a cosmologist who in 1931 put forward the famous theory of the beginning of the universe, says in a 1964 interview that he originally called his theory the “hypothesis of the primeval atom.” It was actually astronomer Fred Hoyle who called it – somewhat sarcastically – the “big bang theory,” a name which has stuck.

VRT, the national public-service broadcaster for the Flemish Community of Belgium, discovered the footage December 31, CNET reported.

“The file for the film turned out to be misclassified and Lemaître’s name had been misspelled,” Kathleen Bertrem, a member of the VRT archives, said in a statement. “As a result, the interview remained untraceable for years.” 

“But one day, while a staff member was scanning a few rolls of film, he suddenly recognized Lemaître in the footage and realized he’d struck gold,” said CNET. 

The 28-minute interview itself was conducted in French and is available with Flemish subtitles on YouTube. But experts have published an English translation.

Asked if his theory has a religious meaning to him, Lemaître said, “I am not defending the primeval atom for the sake of whatever religious ulterior motive. … If my theory is correct, it makes the philosophical problem of creation disappear, in a way.”

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