Bernstein, Jeremy. "The Birth of Modern Cosmology," The American Scholar (Winter 1985/86),

 

Bernstein, Jeremy. "The Birth of Modern Cosmology," The American Scholar (Winter 1985/86),
pp. 7-18.

Here is an early statement by Bernstein of the strange story of the discovery of modern
cosmology, the Big Bang theory of Gamow (or the Russian Friedmann, or the Frenchman
Lemaitre). This is a very lucid statement of this history, and includes his judgment that the tale is
amazing. There was a 1949 paper by Alpher and Herman which predicted the residual noise and
the resulting 5 degrees above absolute zero. But the 1949 paper played no part in the 1964
discovery of background radiation by Penzias and Wilson. The discovery, which earned the
Nobel prize for Penzias and Wilson, earned nothing for the theoreticians who predicted it. The
"story" has a story line only retrospectively.

In the note sent to Physics Review by Penzias and Wilson, no credit is given to Alpher, Herman
and Gamow. As Bernstein says, "What the moral of this bizarre history of scientific discovery is I
am not sure, beyond the obvious one that science is done by human beings who behave like
human beings." (p. 18)