Nov. 2, 2006
Vol. 26 No. 4

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    Meyer to share Gruber Cosmology Prize for COBE work

    By Steve Koppes
    News Office

    Stephan Meyer will share the 2006 Gruber Cosmology Prize with his fellow members of the Cosmic Background Explorer team for their 1992 confirmation that the universe was born in a hot big bang. Meyer’s colleagues, John Mather of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and George Smoot of the University of California, Berkeley, this month also received the 2006 Nobel Prize in physics for the work.

    Mather accepted the $250,000 Gruber Prize on behalf of the COBE satellite team at the opening ceremony of the International Astronomical Union’s General Assembly in Prague this summer. Meyer, Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics and the College, is Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics.

    He and his 18 COBE colleagues used the explorer to detect tiny fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background, the afterglow of the big bang. These fluctuations, detected 13 billion years following the big bang, relate to fluctuations in the density of matter in the early universe. These small variations in the distribution of matter bolster the big bang theory by revealing the seeds for all structure in the universe.

    “With these results,” said the Gruber Prize citation, “the COBE team, led by John Mather, set cosmology’s agenda for decades to come and profoundly affected our understanding of cosmic evolution.”

    The Peter Gruber Foundation of the U.S. Virgin Islands in partnership with the International Astronomical Union awards the prize. The foundation supports international awards in cosmology, justice, genetics, neuroscience and women’s rights.