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Nobel Prize in Physics 2006 (Mather and Smoot)

  1. Oct 3, 2006 #1


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    Last edited: Oct 3, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 3, 2006 #2


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    Richly deserved. There hasn't been a hotter research topic anywhere in physics than the consequences of their research.
  4. Oct 3, 2006 #3


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    Very good decision! (Although Ned Wright may not agree...)
    It is also an interesting choice in the manner those guys don't talk to each other...
  5. Oct 4, 2006 #4

    George Jones

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    Why? What's th story here?
  6. Oct 6, 2006 #5


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    Heard he actually did much of the work, and since there is a possible third slot for the prize he might be somewhat dissapointed.
  7. Oct 14, 2006 #6
    Book My Mather

    I guess all is very explained in this book...

    The Very First Light: The True Inside Story of the Scientific Journey
    Back to the Dawn of the Universe
    by John C. Mather (Author), John Boslough (Author)

    Editorial Reviews (taken from amazon)
    From Publishers Weekly
    In a top-notch scientific adventure, astrophysicist Mather, with an
    assist from freelance writer Boslough, tells how, as chief project
    scientist, he organized the team that designed, built and oversaw
    NASA's 1989 launch of the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE). That
    satellite's instruments provided data widely believed to have verified
    the Big Bang theory of the universe's creation in a primordial
    explosion. In 1992 NASA scientists announced that COBE had detected
    minuscule fluctuations in the temperature and density of cosmic
    background radiation, a microwave energy suffusing the entire universe
    that is generally considered a remnant, or "afterbirth," of the Big
    Bang. These fluctuations were interpreted as an indication of
    "primordial seeds" in the early universe, giving rise to its
    present-day clumpiness (uneven distribution) of galaxies and galaxy
    clusters. This lucid, gracefully written narrative combines a
    suspenseful account of how the COBE team overcame technical and
    bureaucratic obstacles with a concise survey of modern cosmology from
    Edwin Hubble to Stephen Hawking. COBE team member George Smoot, a
    Berkeley physicist, violated team policy by leaking news of COBE's
    discoveries to the press before NASA's formal announcement, a leak
    that, to Mather, smacks of self-promotion and betrayal. This excellent
    insider's report complements and broadens the COBE story as presented
    in Smoot's Wrinkles in Times.
  8. Oct 20, 2006 #7
    Hmm, I hadn't heard of Ned Wright famous for anything except his cosmology tutorial...
  9. Jan 30, 2007 #8


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    I don't KNOW anything about this but I will say what my impression has been.
    My impression is that Ned Wright is a leader in the WMAP project that came after COBE.

    My impression is that Ned Wright is a world-class cosmologist, one of the very best, but I didn't hear of him getting in at the start with COBE.

    My impression is that he is maybe a few years younger than Smoot. so I think of him as part of the second-wave of effort. BUT THAT CERTAINLY COULD BE WRONG. We could certainly check, like at what stage of career was Wright back in the late 1980s, and was he a co-author of the COBE papers of the 1990s, and so on.

    whether or not Wright helped with COBE, he is a leader in WMAP, and WMAP goes way beyond COBE. The WMAP satellite does not even orbit the earth, it is in its own orbit around sun, at a Lagrange point a million miles or so farther out than earth. The 3-year data of WMAP was just reported back in March 2006, not even a year ago.


    since i don't have any information about Wright working on COBE, please if anyone finds some please share it. I would very much appreciate.


    WHOAH! I just went to arxiv and checked. Wright DID work on COBE. A lot too. He is co-author of a lot of mid-1990s papers, with Smoot et al.



    Wright's earliest paper on arxiv was a 1993 paper about COBE stuff co-authored with Charles Bennett (one of the COBE principals IIRC).

    I wasn't aware how far back Wright's association goes with CMB astronomy. Thanks to EL for the heads up!


    this is confusing. the earliest COBE paper that Smoot has on the arxiv is one written with Ned Wright

    if all you have to go by is arxiv papers (admittedly not enough but all I have here right now) then one has to say that Wright goes back as far as Smoot.

    so my earlier impression was quite wrong. Thanks again to EL for mentioning this.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2007
  10. Jan 30, 2007 #9


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    To clearify, this thing about Wright having done a lot of the work is just some rumour I heard at a single occasion, just after the prize winners had been announced. Since that, I've heard nothing more of it.

    The people who should know the best about who have done this and that is of course the Nobel committe itself, and I have no doubts they have done nothing but a very well-founded choice (as always).
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