How it all began: Relics of the Big Bang


McGill's Department of Physics welcomes Nobel Laureate, renowned cosmologist George Smoot

At a 1992 meeting of the American Physical Society, George Smoot, an astrophysicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, announced a discovery that provided strong support to the big bang theory – a discovery so groundbreaking that the course of exploration into the fiery beginnings of the universe was changed forever.

On February 14, McGill University’s Department of Physics will welcome Dr. Smoot, American astrophysicist, cosmologist and Nobel Laureate in Physics, to present a free public lecture, Relics of the Big Bang. Dr. Smoot will explore the structure and earliest history of the universe that emerged from his landmark findings and his most recent research. It will be held in the Auditorium of the Frank Dawson Adams Building, 3450 University St., from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

In 2006, Dr. Smoot was co-awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his milestone contribution in cementing the big bang theory. Working with NASA's COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) satellite, Dr. Smoot and his team measured and mapped the tiny differences in the temperature of the cosmic microwave background radiation thought to a relic of the intense heat of the early big bang. They found variations so small they had to be the primordial seeds on which gravity worked to grow the galaxies, clusters of galaxies and clusters of clusters that are observed in the universe today. According to the Nobel Prize committee, "the COBE project can also be regarded as the starting point for cosmology as a precision science."

Dr. Smoot, also a physics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, has worked at the Berkeley Lab since 1970. In addition to his vigorous research activities, he lectures extensively on cosmology and has written Wrinkles in Time, a popular book about cosmology, some of his experiments and the COBE discovery.

This lecture is made possible through support of the Anna I. McPherson Lectures in Physics fund. The purpose of this lecture series (there will be a second scientific lecture on February 15) is to bring distinguished physicists to the department and to meet staff and students.

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