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Bottle, Cointreau, YLEM


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Explore the Universe exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Collection Item Summary:

This Cointreau bottle was redecorated by George Gamow to commemorate the submission in 1948 of the paper he co-authored with Ralph Alpher proposing what would later be called the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe. A follow-on publication predicted existence of background radiation remaining from that cataclysmic event. The original label has been modified to prominently display the word YLEM where the original showed Cointreau. The term Ylem comes from the ancient Greek term for the primordial substance from which the world was created. The bottle was donated to NASM in 2001 by Louise and Ralph Alpher. It is now on display in the Explore the Universe gallery.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum


Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


Credit Line

Gift of Ralph A. Alpher & Louise E. Alpher.


Amber glass


3-D: 7.5 × 7.5 × 17cm (2 15/16 × 2 15/16 × 6 11/16 in.)

Country of Origin

  • United States of America
  • France



Inventory Number