Edwin Hubble’s Birthday

I’m not sure how many more I will have, but their celebration as a recurring milestone in life is a good thing. Among my daily pleasures is checking a website with an image of cosmic interest. An image like this one, for example. Virtually every speck of light, including the swirls and blue, smudgy spots, are stars like our Sun. If you believe in God, then all this comes under his purview, even if it’s many billions of light years away.

When people hear the name “Hubble,” they likely think of the Hubble Space Telescope, which has brought the wonders of the universe to all of us. It showed us that we are just a drop in a system of 100 billion galaxies. Yet the scientist behind the telescope’s name, Edwin Hubble, was just as important (if not more) in opening the eyes of the world to the wonders of space.

Today (11/20/2015) marks Edwin Hubble’s 126th birthday. He was a record holding athlete in high school, University of Chicago graduate, World War I veteran, University of Oxford graduate, holder of a Ph.D. in astronomy and, at one point, knocked out the German heavyweight champion in a boxing match. He also proved that the universe has an uncountable number of galaxies other than our own, and discovered the rate at which all of the galaxies in the universe were expanding.

That last discovery is what made Hubble especially famous. The expansion rate is known as the Hubble constant, and measuring that constant is the goal of the famous Hubble Space Telescope. Eventually, his theories were built upon by future generations, leading to the development of the Big Bang theory in the 1960s. Today, the telescope that bears his name still tests his ideas and lets humans on Earth see our awe-inspiring universe.