Astrophysicists explaining universe's evolution share Nobel prize

Astrophysicists explaining universe's evolution share Nobel prize

In 1995, the two men announced the first discovery of an exoplanet - a planet outside our solar system - that orbits a sun-like star.

I am an astrophysicist and was delighted to hear of this year's Nobel recipients, who had a profound impact on scientists' understanding of the universe. "It's suddenly not quiet", the 84-year-old said in a phone interview.

Peebles took on the cosmos, with its billions of galaxies and galaxy clusters, the committee said, with a theoretical framework he developed over two decades, which serves as the foundation of our modern understanding of the universe's history from the Big Bang to the present day.

Peebles said the awards and prizes are "very much appreciated" but said that's not why young people should study the sciences.

"You could've just given a lecture on centripetal force and gravity without bothering to fill up this 200 litre Value-Added Tax of water", says Robert Bunning, one of Peeble's former students.

And when you've grappled with that for a bit, you may begin fascinated by the equally vital conundrum of how the universe got here into being.

"The field has exploded", Peebles said.

"This year's Nobel laureates in physics have painted a picture of the universe far stranger and more wonderful than we ever could have imagined", said Ulf Danielsson of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in announcing the laureates.

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"One of my earliest memories is throwing a tantrum because I was not allowed to put myself in the coffee percolator", he said.

A lot of my own work on exploding stars is guided by theories describing the structure of the universe that James Peebles himself laid down.

Peebles has honorary doctorates from a string of Canadian universities and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Order of Manitoba.

Peebles is the author or co-author of five books, including "Physical Cosmology" and "Finding the Big Bang".

In addition to the global recognition afforded by the award, Mayor and Queloz will split half of the overall award of 9 million Swedish krona (CHF900,000/€830,000). Mayor and Queloz announced their discovery 24 years ago.

That can't quite be said for Peebles' theoretical work. The laureates receive them at an elegant ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the death of prize founder Alfred Nobel in 1896, together with five other Nobel winners. He has done foundational work on the formation of galaxies, as well as to how the Big Bang gave rise to the first elements - hydrogen, helium, lithium - on the periodic table.

The plot of the finale episode has the group taking a final trip together to support the married Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Amy (Mayim Bialik) after they win the Nobel Prize in physics. The University of Waterloo's Donna Strickland picked up the honour in 2018 for her "method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses".

Arthur McDonald, a retired professor at Queen's University, won physics prize in 2015.

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