75th Anniversary Astronomical Debate Home Page

Featuring historical background, lecture and ticket information

In April 1920, Harlow Shapley and Heber D. Curtis debated "The Scale of the Universe" in the main auditorium of Smithsonian's Natural History Museum in Washington, DC. In April 1995, 75 years after the "Great Debate", Donald Lamb (Chicago) and Bohdan Paczynski (Princeton) will debate "The Distance Scale to Gamma-Ray Bursts" in the same auditorium. Martin Rees (Cambridge) will moderate.

These pages are still under construction. Information will be updated here frequently. A reasonably complete set of pages should exist by 15 January 1995. These pages are unofficial and do not represent the opinions, beliefs, or standards of any organization. Although every attempt has been made to be accurate, please use the information below only at your own risk. Information presented here is subject to change without prior notice and, unless otherwise noted, is for private educational purposes only and not for general distribution. Ticket availability is not guaranteed.

  image http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/htmltest/gifcity/shapley.gif                    image http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/htmltest/gifcity/curtis.gif 
 Harlow Shapley                  Heber D. Curtis 

The Shapley - Curtis Debate in 1920

The Scale of the Universe

Published version of the 'Great Debate.' This is a reprint of the texts of Great Debate published in 1921 in the Bulletin of the National Research Council by Shapley and Curtis.

The 'Great Debate:' What Really Happened by Michael Hoskin, editor of the Journal for the History of Astronomy. This is a reprint of an article appearing in the Journal for the History of Astronomy discussing reality and myths about the 1920 event. The article includes text from the actual notes used by Shapley and slides used by Curtis.

A long bibliography for the 1920 Great Debate. This collection of over one hundred articles and books was compiled by Robert W. Smith, a historian working at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

A short bibliography for the 1920 Great Debate. Five key books and articles about the Great Debate.

Lesson Plans for teaching undergraduates about the Great Debate. Lessons available for introductory undergraduate and advanced undergraduate.

A Glossary of terms used in the Great Debate.

What the Great Debate was, how it was resolved, and why it was important.
A subjective abstract in three short paragraphs.


The Paczynski - Lamb Debate in 1995

The Distance Scale to Gamma Ray Bursts

A Diamond Jubilee Celebration

A limited supply of tickets are still available for this event as of the last update of this page. Tickets are free but should be requested in writing to the address given below.

The distance scale to gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) is as uncertain today as the distance scale to spiral nebulae was in 1920. Evidence appears to be mounting that GRBs occur in our Galaxy, but conflicting evidence also appears to be mounting that GRBs occur at cosmological distances. Therefore, at this debate, Lamb and Paczynski will publicly disagree, and each display evidence and reasoning on why one distance scale should be preferred over the other.

Address to write for free tickets, if still available. This page also contains details of when and where the 75th anniversary debate will be held.

The 1995 Debate Program including introductory review lectures.

A short bibliography for the 1995 debate.
Some of these articles are highly technical in nature.

A Glossary of terms likely to be used in the 1995 debate.

What this debate is about, how it will likely be resolved, and why it is important.
A subjective abstract in three short paragraphs.

Might some of your friends or colleagues be interested in attending? If so, you might consider downloading and posting this postscript poster about the `Diamond Jubilee' debate in 1995.

Electronic correspondence should be directed to Robert Nemiroff at the Internet address: debate@grossc.gsfc.nasa.gov