Expanding rates


Even though the price of a first-class stamp rose to 42 cents in early May, you might want to consider buying some one-cent stamps—to use with the 41-cent stamp that honors U of C alumnus Edwin Hubble. Ninety-nine years after Hubble, SB'1910, PhD'17, helped the U of C capture a national basketball championship as a third-year physics major, and 85 years after he proved the existence of galaxies outside the Milky Way, the U. S. Postal Service unveiled a stamp in Hubble's honor in early March. At the astronomy & astrophysics department's weekly colloquium on April 30, James Mruk, public-affairs manager for the postal service's Great Lakes area, presented Rocky Kolb, the department's chair, with an oversized reproduction of the stamp, one in a series honoring four American scientists.

"Hubble’s accomplishments in the field of extragalactic astronomy make him the greatest American astronomer of the 20th century," Kolb told the gathering of faculty and students. "About the only thing Hubble didn’t do in astronomy is to construct the Hubble Space Telescope."

Hubble's discovery that the Andromeda Nebula was actually the Andromeda Galaxy profoundly changed cosmologists' understanding of the universe, and today no fewer than ten astronomical concepts bear his name. Perhaps most famous is the Hubble Constant, a measure describing the universe's age and expansion rate. After his studies at Chicago—where he not only played basketball but also was a gifted boxer and high jumper—he took a job at California's Mount Wilson Observatory, where he worked until his death in 1953.


Photos: The Edwin Hubble commemorative stamp; James Mruk (left) presents the stamp to Chicago astronomer Rocky Kolb.

Photos by Lloyd DeGrane.

May 21, 2008