Research News

Physics Nobel laureate to describe new insights into the early universe

Nobel laureate George F. Smoot from the University of California, Berkeley will give a free public lecture about what the latest studies of the variations in fossil radiation called the cosmic background radiation (CBR) are revealing about the nature of the embryonic universe shortly after its origin in the Big Bang.

The annual Francis G. Slack lecture is titled “The History and Fate of the Universe” and is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, March 20, at 4 p.m. in Stevenson Center Room 4327 on the Vanderbilt campus. A reception will precede the lecture at 3:30 p.m. in Room 6333 of the Stevenson Center.

For many years the CBR – a faint microwave signal that comes from every direction in the sky – appeared to be perfectly uniform. Using a special satellite, Smoot and his colleagues were the first to measure subtle fluctuations in the signal and they received the 2006 Nobel Prize in physics for their discovery. These variations provide important clues about how matter began to aggregate in the early universe and how stars and galaxies came into being.

The annual Francis G. Slack Lecture was established in 1977 to honor Slack, who taught physics at Vanderbilt from 1928 to 1951. He was the first physicist at Vanderbilt to put equal emphasis on teaching and research at a national-international level.

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