03 October 2006

News Flash: Nobel Prize in Physics 2006

Fresh from the Nobel Foundation, the Nobel Prize in Physics 2006 has been awared to John Mather and George Smoot. Their works in cosmology - the discovery of the blackbody nature of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the radiation of wavelength 1.9 mm which is a remnant of the Big Bang, as well as its non-uniformity at different directions - are responsible for fetching them this honour.

Seldom has an award been given to an astrophysics or cosmology field. This discovery of the blackbody nature of the CMB is one of the five main observations that supports the Big Bang theory. And their discovery of its anisotropy (non-directional) is one that hinted at the incompleteness of the Big Bang theory, resulting in the birth of the cosmological inflation theory, which is the topic of my SP2171 project last semester. You can read some general information of this story in the outline of my project.


preetam rai said...

Hi Fenyman Boson, enjoy reading your blog. I was interested in Physics in younger days and used to spend a lot of time reading popular books on particles and orgin of the universe. Is there any popular book you can recomment that would help me get up to date with the latest ideas in these fields.

Pandemonium said...


If you want to read on latest ideas, I think the best way is to read non-technical scientific magazines like Scientific American. I doubt you can find non-technical books on latest ideas, since such ideas are not established yet and changes quite frequently, as with all theories which are new.

If you're looking for older ideas, best-selling books like A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and Hyperspace by Michio Kaku are usually quite brilliant. They're definitely worth reading if you have not done so. If you're interested in the origin of the Universe, The First Three Minutes by Steven Weinberg is pretty good as I've heard, though I've never read it before.

As far as I know, there are currently no ground-breaking theories with regards to cosmology since the Big Bang theory. Inflation theory looks set to be big, but right now there are hundreds of variants, each with their flaws and peculiarities, and I believe it won't be anytime soon that the scientific community can come to a general consensus with regards to this idea.

warhammer said...

hey man, do you think they're running out of areas to give out prizes that they're just covering the old stuff again? Arno and his partner got it in '77 or something.

Pandemonium said...

Ya, but then these discoveries of and about the CMB is quite important leh... They all shaped the main theories of cosmology significantly.

Or maybe the Swedish Academy is sick of particles and stuff like that. Heh... But really lah... proportion-wise, cosmology and astrophysics don't get many Nobel Prizes.

ng2000 said...

Another resource for you: http://www.ng2000.com/fw.php?tp=physics