Belgian Television Station Rediscovers Lost Interview With Priest Who Developed Big Bang Theory

VRT television channel found the video among its archives late last year.

Father Georges Lemaître is shown in the Feb. 14, 1964, broadcast.
Father Georges Lemaître is shown in the Feb. 14, 1964, broadcast. (photo: VRT / YouTube)

A Belgian television station has rediscovered a 20-minute video in which Father Georges Lemaître, considered the “father of the Big Bang” theory, explains what the origin of the universe may have been like.

Father Lemaître was a Belgian astrophysicist known for being the first academic to propose the theory of the expansion of the universe from a massive explosion of what he called a “primordial atom” or “cosmic egg.”

Until now, only photographs of Father Lemaître were preserved, the most popular being the one where he appears alongside Albert Einstein.

Robert Millikan, Father George Lemaître and Albert Einstein after Father Lemaître's lecture at the California Institute of Technology in January 1933. | Public domain

However, the VRT television station recently found a video in which the father of the Big Bang explains his theory.

Kathleen Bertrem of VRT’s archives mentioned in late December 2022 that finding this historic material was like “looking for a needle in a haystack” due to the company misclassifying its extensive files.

Nevertheless, the television channel found among its archives the tape of an interview in French that producer Jerome Verhaeghe conducted with Father Lemaître on Feb. 14, 1964, and broadcast then.

Father Lemaître points out in the interview that the expansion of the universe was not accepted at first because it made the idea of a creation necessary.

In the video, the astrophysicist explains that “before the theory of the expansion of the universe, some 40 years ago [in the 1920s], we expected the universe to be static, because nothing changes.”

“It was an idea that, a priori, basically applied to the entire universe,” the priest notes.

However, discovering expansion made the idea of a static universe “out of the question.”

The priest and astrophysicist also says that this led him to propose the Big Bang theory, describing it as the “primordial atom.”

“There is a very different beginning to the state of today’s universe, a beginning of multiplicity that can be described, as far as we can describe it, in the form of the disintegration of all matter in the form of atoms,” he states.

This expansion leads us to have “a universe, an expanding space full of plasma, with very energetic rays that go in all directions.”

Father Lemaître called these rays “primeval fireworks,” which have been preserved in space, “giving us a testimony of the first ages of the world.”

The Belgian priest emphasized that he tries to present his theory in scientific terms and that he has no interest in having his position thought to be a profession of his religious convictions.

The full video in French of the interview with Father Lemaître can be seen on the VRT YouTube channel.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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