UNCG Campus Weekly

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Nobel laureate Mather will speak on history of universe

Nobel Laureate Dr. John C. MatherPhoto of Dr. John C. Mather courtesy of NASA of the Goddard Space Flight Center will speak on “The History of the Universe from Beginning to End” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10, at UNCG.

He will speak in Mead Auditorium of the Sullivan Science Building.

Mather will tell the story of how the universe began, its past, present and future, how it could have produced an Earth where sentient beings live, and how those beings are discovering their history. He will also discuss NASA’s plans for the next telescope project, the James Webb Space Telescope.

“A visit by a Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist is a special occasion for this campus,” says Dr. Steve Danford (Physics & Astronomy). “It gives us a chance to highlight the good science that we do here at UNCG and will give students and guests a chance to hear Dr. Mather talk about his work at one of the great frontiers of science today: the earliest beginnings of our Universe.”

Mather is a senior astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, where he specializes in infrared astronomy and cosmology. He joined the center in 1976 and has been a senior project scientist since 1995 for the Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.

As a postdoctoral fellow at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, he led the proposal efforts for the Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite, or COBE, (1974-1976). His research on the COBE project showed that the cosmic microwave background radiation has a blackbody spectrum within 50 parts per million, which accurately confirmed the Big Bang theory.

The COBE team also discovered the cosmic hot and cold spots in the background radiation, which is now believed to be the primordial seeds that led to the structure of the universe today. These findings led to Mather receiving the Nobel Prize in 2006.

Dr. Mather also will have dinner and speak with UNCG’s STAMPS Science Scholars while he is here, Danford notes. STAMPS (“Science, Technology and Math Preparation Scholarships”) is a program that provides scholarships to UNCG undergraduates who are majoring in Biology, Chemistry/Biochemistry, Mathematical Sciences, Computer Science, Geology/Geographical Information Systems, and Physics/Astronomy.

The talk is sponsored by STAMPS Science Scholarships at UNCG, Sigma Xi Society and the UNCG Department of Physics and Astronomy. For more information, call 334-5844 or contact Dr. Steve Danford (danford@uncg.edu).

By Steve Gilliam
Photography courtesy NASA.