“Allan Sandage, Astronomer, Dies at 84; Charted Cosmos’s Age and Expansion”


“… In 1949, Dr. Sandage was a young Caltech graduate student, a self-described ‘hick who fell off the turnip truck,’ when he became the observing assistant for Edwin Hubble, the Mount Wilson astronomer who discovered the expansion of the universe.
Hubble had planned an observing campaign using a new 200-inch telescope on Palomar Mountain in California to explore the haunting questions raised by that mysterious expansion. If the universe was born in a Big Bang, for example, could it one day die in a Big Crunch? But Hubble died of a heart attack in 1953, just as the telescope was going into operation. So Dr. Sandage, a fresh Ph.D. at 27, inherited the job of limning the fate of the universe.
‘It would be as if you were appointed to be copy editor to Dante,’ Dr. Sandage said. ‘If you were the assistant to Dante, and then Dante died, and then you had in your possession the whole of The Divine Comedy, what would you do?'” [. . .]    –Dennis Overbye, The New York Times, November 17, 2010