Georges Lemaître: Life, Science and Legacy

Volume 395 of the series Astrophysics and Space Science Library pp 89-96


Georges Lemaître and Stigler’s Law of Eponymy

  • David L. BlockAffiliated withSchool of Computational and Applied Mathematics, University of the Witwatersrand Email author 

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


One of the greatest discoveries of modern times is that of the expanding Universe, almost invariably attributed to Hubble (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 15:168, 1929). What is not widely known is that the original treatise by Lemaître (Annales de la Société Scientifique de Bruxelles, Sèrie A 47:49, 1927) contained a rich fusion of both theory and of observation. The French paper was meticulously censored when published in English: all discussions of radial velocities and distances, and the very first empirical determination of H 0 , were suppressed. Stigler’s law of eponymy is yet again affirmed: no scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer (Merton, American Sociological Review 22(6):635, 1957). An appeal is made for a Lemaître Telescope naming opportunity, to honour the discoverer of the expanding universe.