Feeds

Mather and Smoot collect Nobel Prize for Physics

All hail the cosmologists

Application security programs and practises

The Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded jointly to John Mather and George Smoot "for their discovery of the black-body form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation".

The Big Bang theory predicts this radiation, first registered in 1964, as a relic of the massive explosion that heralded the birth of the Universe. An alternate theory for the origins of the universe - the idea that the universe had always existed in a steady state - had also been proposed.

NASA's COBE satellite was launched in 1989 specifically to investigate the nature of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Mather and Smoot analysed the data gathered by the satellite and, according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, this work was instrumental in developing cosmology into a precise science. It further bolstered the Big Bang theory, confirming at least two of its predictions.

After the Big Bang, the Universe was quite hot - around 3000K - and emitting what is known as black-body radiation. This refers to a very specific spectrum of radiation which is dependent solely on the temperature of the body. Over time, the Universe was expected to cool to around 2.7K, just above absolute zero.

With data collected in the first nine minutes of COBE's operation, Mather and Smoot confirmed that the cosmic microwave background radiation did indeed have a black-body form matching that predicted by the theory. This indicated that the radiation is indeed a result of the Big Bang, and therefore that the Universe has not always existed in a steady state.

Further detailed analysis of the data showed there were slight fluctuations in the temperature of the radiation depending on the direction it was measured in. Because of this, it is said to be anisotropic.

This anisotropy is responsible for matter being able to aggregate to form stars, galaxies, planets and, eventually, Nobel laureates.

John Mather works at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre, and George Smoot is based in the University of California, Berkeley. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.