Trinity University, San Antonio | News Release



CONTACT:  Mary Anthony

Jan. 13, 2011


Astrophysicist and Nobel Laureate in Physics to Speak During Distinguished Scientists Lecture Series at Trinity University


SAN ANTONIO John C. Mather, senior astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will discuss “From the Big Bang to the Nobel Prize and on to James Webb Space Telescope and the Discovery of Alien Life” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31, in Laurie Auditorium, as part of the Trinity University Distinguished Scientists Lecture Series. The lecture is free and open to the public.


Mather will tell the story of how the universe began with a Big Bang, how it could have produced an Earth where sentient beings can live, and how those beings are discovering their history.  He was project scientist for NASA’s Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite, which measured the spectrum (the color) of the heat radiation from the Big Bang, discovered hot and cold spots in that radiation, and hunted for the first objects that formed after the great explosion.  He will explain Einstein’s biggest mistake, show how Edwin Hubble discovered the expansion of the universe, how the COBE mission was built, and how the COBE data support the Big Bang theory. 


He will also show NASA’s plans for the next great telescope in space, the James Webb Space Telescope, planned for launch in 2014.  This telescope will look even farther back in time than the Hubble Space Telescope, and will look inside the dusty cocoons where stars and planets are being born today.  It is capable of examining Earth-like planets around other stars using the transit technique, and future missions may find signs of life. 


Mather specializes in infrared astronomy and cosmology. He received his bachelor’s degree in physics at Swarthmore College and his doctorate in physics at the University of California, Berkeley. As an NRC postdoctoral fellow at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, he led the proposal efforts for the Cosmic Background Explorer (1974-76), and came to GSFC to be the study scientist (1976-88), project scientist (1988-98), and the principal investigator for the Far IR Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) on COBE. 


In addition to receiving the Nobel Prize in 2006, he is the recipient of other honors and awards, including his 2007 listing in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in The World.  Since 1995 he has served as senior project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope.


The Trinity University Distinguished Scientists Lecture Series is made possible through an endowment gift from Mr. and Mrs. Walter F. Brown of San Antonio.  For more information, contact Trinity University’s Office of University Communications at 210-999-8406.




News & Events | Calendars | Athletics
One Trinity Place, San Antonio, Texas 78212-7200
2011 Trinity University

Go to Email Univ. Comm. Go to Email Univ. Comm.