Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Physics Nobel Prize for Cosmology Based on COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer)

From the Nobel Prize Web site:

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics jointly to John C. Mather, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA, and George F. Smoot, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA, for their discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Image: NASA (starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov)

"Their work looks back into the infancy of the Universe and attempts to gain some understanding of the origin of galaxies and stars. It is based on measurements made with the help of the COBE satellite launched by NASA in 1989.

"The COBE results provided increased support for the Big Bang scenario for the origin of the Universe, as this is the only scenario that predicts the kind of cosmic microwave background radiation measured by COBE. These measurements also marked the inception of cosmology as a precise science."

An author search on Mather JC and Smoot GF in Science Citation Index (SCI) results in 17 papers, including Scientific results from the cosmic background explorer (COBE), co-authored with 11 others and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 90 (11): 4766-4773 JUN 1 1993.

A later paper, Measurement of the cosmic microwave background spectrum by the COBE FIRAS instrument, coauthored with 21 others and cited 282 times, was published in Astrophysical Journal 420 (2): 439-444 Part 1, JAN 10 1994. It is available in the science library journal stacks.

For a brief introduction to COBE measurements, consult A century of physics by D. Allan Bromley, pp. 103-104. John D. Barrow's book, A history of the universe, provides a more indepth discussion of COBE and the big bang theory.

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