Nobel Prize-winning physicist to lecture Thursday

by William G. Gilroy

John C. Mather

John C. Mather, the 2006 Nobel Laureate in Physics, will deliver a lecture titled “From the Big Bang to the Nobel Prize and on to the James Webb Space Telescope” at 7 p.m. Thursday (April 23) in room 101 of the University of Notre Dame’s Jordan Hall of Science. His talk is free and open to the public.

Mather shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with George F. Smoot for their discovery of the black body form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation. He is a senior astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA’s Goodard Flight Center and his research centers on infrared astronomy and cosmology. He also was project scientist for NASA’s Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite, which measured the spectrum of the heat radiation from the Big Bang, discovered hot and cold spots in that radiation, and hunted for the first objects that formed after the great explosion.

During his lecture, Mather will explain Einstein’s biggest mistake, show how Edwin Hubble discovered the expansion of the Universe, how the COBE mission was built, and how the COBE data supports the Big Bang theory.

Mather also will show NASA’s plans for the next great telescope in space, the James Webb Space Telescope. The Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled for launch in 2013, will look even further back in time than the Hubble Space Telescope and will look inside the dusty cocoons where stars and planets are being born today.

Mather’s lecture is sponsored by the John A. Lynch Lectureship in Life Sciences.