Before he became a world-famous astronomer, Edwin Hubble (left) was an accomplished basketball player and track star in high school and at the University of Chicago. In 2009, space shuttle Atlantis carried a basketball used in one of Hubble's games (right) on the final mission to serve Hubble Space Telescope, which is visible outside the shuttle's windows. [NASA]
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[AUDIO: 3, 2, 1, and liftoff of space shuttle Atlantis on the final visit to enhance the vision of Hubble...]
When Atlantis headed toward Hubble Space Telescope back in 2009, its cargo included a basketball that the University of Chicago had used in a game against Indiana exactly a century earlier. One of the Chicago stars that year was a lanky 6-2 forward: Edwin Hubble, the namesake of Hubble Space Telescope.
Hubble was born 125 years ago today in Missouri. He was bright and athletic, and set records in high school track and field events. He was interested in science — especially astronomy — but he promised his father he’d pursue a career in law.
So after earning a science degree at the University of Chicago — as well as two Big Ten basketball titles — Hubble journeyed to Oxford. He earned his law degree there, and after the death of his father in 1913, he returned to the United States to help take care of his family.
Although he passed his bar exams, Hubble wasn’t interested in law. Instead, he taught high school physics and Spanish for a while before returning to college to pursue his true interest: astronomy. He finished his PhD shortly after the U.S. entered World War I, and enlisted in the army the same day.
After the war, Hubble had a job waiting for him at Mount Wilson Observatory in California. He used the world’s largest telescope there to make some of the most important discoveries of the 20th century. More about that tomorrow.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2014
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