John C. Mather

John Cromwell Mather (b. August 7, 1946, Roanoke, Virginia) is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his work on COBE with George Smoot. COBE was the first experiment to measure "... the black body form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation."

This work helped cement the big-bang theory of the universe using the Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite (COBE). According to the Nobel Prize committee, "the COBE-project can also be regarded as the starting point for cosmology as a precision science.

Mather is a senior astrophysicist at the U.S. space agency's (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and adjunct professor of physics at the University of Maryland, College Park. In 2007, Mather was listed among Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World.

Education and initial research

* 1964 Newton High School, Newton, New Jersey
* 1968 B.Sc. (Physics), Swarthmore College
* 1974 Ph.D. (Physics), University of California, Berkeley
* 1974-76 (NRC Postdoctoral Fellow), Columbia University Goddard Institute for
Space Studies

Participation in COBE

As an NRC postdoctoral fellow at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University, he led the proposal efforts on COBE (1974-1976). The success of COBE was the outcome of prodigious team work involving more than 1,000 researchers, engineers and other participants. John Mather coordinated the entire process and also had primary responsibility for the experiment that revealed the blackbody form of the microwave background radiation measured by COBE. George Smoot had main responsibility for measuring the small variations in the temperature of the radiation.[1]

In the book The Very First Light Mather with co-author John Boslough chronicled his team's work for the general public.

Honours and awards

* 1964-68 Swarthmore College Open Scholarship (honorary)
* 1967 William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, 30th place nationwide
* 1968-70 NSF Fellowship and honorary Woodrow Wilson Fellowship
* 1970-74 Fellow, Hertz Foundation
* 1974-76 Postdoctoral Fellow, NRC
* 1990 NASA GSFC John C. Lindsay Memorial Award
* 1991 Rotary National Space Achievement Award
* 1991 National Air and Space Museum Trophy
* 1992 Aviation Week and Space Technology Laurels for Space/Missiles
* 1993 Discover Magazine Technology Award finalist
* 1993 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space Science Award
* 1993 American Astronomical Society and American Institute of Physics Dannie
Heineman Prize for Astrophysics
* 1994 Fellow, Goddard Space Flight Center
* 1994 Doctor of Science, honoris causa, Swarthmore College
* 1995 City of Philadelphia John Scott Award
* 1996 American Academy of Arts and Sciences Rumford Prize
* 1996 Fellow, American Physical Society
* 1997 Aviation Week and Space Technology Hall of Fame
* 1997 Member, National Academy of Sciences
* 1998 Marc Aaronson Memorial Prize
* 1998 Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
* 1999 Franklin Institute Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics
* 2005 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers George W. Goddard Award
* 2006 Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation Prize in Cosmology
* 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics
* 2007 Fellow, SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering


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