I was interviewed the other day by a journalist who asked me the following questions: Why is science outreach important? What does it matter whether people know anything about what is going on at the forefront of esoteric areas like cosmology? My response was colored by a recent experience giving a lecture to inaugurate the International Year of Astronomy at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
I was lecturing on “The Impact of Modern Cosmology on Culture.” And the point that really hit home as I prepared my lecture is the fact that the existence of the Big Bang really deeply permeates the modern Zeitgeist. The discovery in 1929 that the Universe was expanding, combined with Le Maitre’s realization that Einstein’s General Relativity required a Big Bang (a fact that Einstein ridiculed until he realized it was correct), meant the Universe has a beginning.