George Smoot

Nobel Prize Winning Astrophysicist & Cosmologist

George Smoot Biography

The 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for studies of some of the oldest stuff around. It meant looking back into the dawn of the Universe to gain some understanding of the origin and nature of the Universe and of its galaxies and stars. The award was shared by George F. Smoot of the University of California, Berkeley, and John Mather of NASA, “for their discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation”. Their work was based on measurements made by the COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) satellite launched by NASA in 1989. Mather had the Principal Investigator for the blackbody form experiment, and Smoot was for measuring temperature variations (“anisotropy”).

According to theory, cosmic microwave background radiation (discovered by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson in the 1960s) is the relic radiation from the Big Bang. The frequency spectrum of this relic radiation has a special form characteristic of blackbody radiation. When it was emitted the temperature of the Universe was almost 3,000 K. Since then, the radiation has gradually cooled so that it is now barely 2.72 degrees above absolute zero. Mather’s team was able to calculate this temperature thanks to the blackbody spectrum revealed by the COBE measurements. COBE also sought variations of temperature in different directions. Differences of the merest fraction of a degree offer an important clue to how the matter in the Universe began to form stars, planets and ultimately all life. The COBE results supports the standard cosmological scenario, a Big Bang followed by a rapid inflation, as this scenario predicts the kind of cosmic microwave background radiation measured by COBE. Newer satellites have improved on these results and exploited the observations to measure precisely many of the parameters of the Universe.

George Fitzgerald Smoot III was born in Yukon, Florida, USA, in 1945. He attended Upper Arlington High School in Ohio, gained a dual BSc in mathematics and physics at MIT in 1966, and a doctorate in particle physics in 1970. He then switched to cosmology, working with Luis Walter Alvarez at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on experiments for the detection of antimatter in the upper atmosphere. Turning his attention to cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB), Smoot set a strict limit on the universe as a whole was rotating, which would have had an effect on the CMB. It was to further pursue the study of CMB that Smoot proposed the Differential Microwave Radiometer (DMR) instrument for the COBE satellite to NASA.

After COBE, Smoot took part in another CMB experiment involving a stratospheric balloon, MAXIMA and then the third CMB satellite Planck. He is also a collaborator in designing the SNAP, a satellite which is proposed to measure the properties of dark energy and the BigBOSS/DESI project to map the location of tens of millions of galaxies.

Smoot has been an astrophysicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) since 1974 and a physics professor at University of California, Berkeley since 1994. He is director of the Center for Fundamental Physics at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (2008) and is a fellow of the American Physical Society. He has received several awards among them the Einstein Medal (2003) and the Oersted Medal (2009).

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George Smoot Videos

IAS Nobel Lecture:Mapping the Universe in Space- Prof George Smoot
You are a Simulation & Physics Can Prove It:George Smoot at TEDxSalford

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George Smoot is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book George Smoot for your event is $30,000 - $50,000. George Smoot generally travels from Paris, France and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Viola Davis, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, Rashida Jones and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling George Smoot for an upcoming event.

George Smoot Videos

IAS Nobel Lecture:Mapping the Universe in Space- Prof George Smoot
You are a Simulation & Physics Can Prove It:George Smoot at TEDxSalford

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