Hubble realized that this could be expressed with a simple equation, Ho = v/d (where Ho is the constant, v is the recessional velocity of a flying galaxy, andd its distance away from us). Ho has been known ever since as the Hubble constant and the whole as Hubble's Law. Using his formula, Hubble calculated that the universe was about two billion years old, which was a little awkward because even by the late 1920s it was fairly obvious that many things within the universe— not least Earth itself—were probably older than that. Refining this figure has been an ongoing preoccupation of cosmology.
Almost the only thing constant about the Hubble constant has been the amount of disagreement over what value to give it. In 1956, astronomers discovered that Cepheid variables were more variable than they had thought; they came in two varieties, not one. This allowed them to rework their calculations and come up with a new age for the universe of from 7 to 20 billion years—not terribly precise, but at least old enough, at last, to embrace the formation of the Earth.
In the years that followed there erupted a long-running dispute between Allan Sandage, heir to Hubble at Mount Wilson, and Gerard de Vaucouleurs, a French-born astronomer based at the University of Texas. Sandage, after years of careful calculations, arrived at a value for the Hubble constant of 50, giving the universe an age of 20 billion years. De Vaucouleurs was equally certain that the Hubble constant was 100.