At all events, Hubble failed to make theoretical hay when the chance was there. Instead, it was left to a Belgian priest-scholar (with a Ph.D. from MIT) named Georges Lema?tre to bring together the two strands in his own “fireworks theory,” which suggested that the universe began as a geometrical point, a “primeval atom,” which burst into glory and had been moving apart ever since. It was an idea that very neatly anticipated the modern conception of the Big Bang but was so far ahead of its time that Lema?tre seldom gets more than the sentence or two that we have given him here. The world would need additional decades, and the inadvertent discovery of cosmic background radiation by Penzias and Wilson at their hissing antenna in New Jersey, before the Big Bang would begin to move from interesting idea to established theory.
Neither Hubble nor Einstein would be much of a part of that big story. Though no one would have guessed it at the time, both men had done about as much as they were ever going to do.
In 1936 Hubble produced a popular book called The Realm of the Nebulae, which explained in flattering style his own considerable achievements. Here at last he showed that he had acquainted himself with Einstein's theory—up to a point anyway: he gave it four pages out of about two hundred.
Hubble died of a heart attack in 1953. One last small oddity awaited him. For reasons cloaked in mystery, his wife declined to have a funeral and never revealed what she did with his body. Half a century later the whereabouts of the century's greatest astronomer remain unknown. For a memorial you must look to the sky and the Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990 and named in his honor.