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Goddard Space Flight Center

Astrophysics Science Division | Sciences and Exploration

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COBE, Cosmology, and John Mather

Latest News

February 14, 2009

Dr. Mather Interviewed on Static Limit

December 20, 2008

John Mather delivered the University of Maryland Commencement Speech on December 20, 2008. Download a copy:

December 5, 2008

John Mather's "History of the Universe" lecture at Swarthmore College, PA.

Dr. John C. Mather of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center won the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Mather shares the prize with George F. Smoot of the University of California for their collaborative work on understanding the Big Bang. Mather and Smoot analyzed data from NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE), which studied the pattern of radiation from the first few instants after the universe was formed.

In 1992, the COBE team announced that they had mapped the primordial hot and cold spots in the cosmic microwave background radiation. These spots are related to the gravitational field in the early universe, only instants after the Big Bang, and are the seeds for the giant clusters of galaxies that stretch hundreds of millions of light years across the universe. The team also showed that the big bang radiation has a spectrum that agrees exactly with the theoretical prediction, confirming the Big Bang theory and showing that the Big Bang was complete in the first instants, with only a tiny fraction of the energy released later.

Currently, Dr. Mather is working on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), where he is the senior project scientist. JWST will be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, and is scheduled to launch in 2018.

Dr. Mather is the author of many publications, including his book, "The Very First Light", which was written along with John Boslough and is now in its 2nd edition (2008).