Archive for Nobel Prize for Physics 2019

`How Physical Cosmology Grew’ – The Nobel Lecture of Jim Peebles

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , on December 11, 2019 by telescoper

It seems like yesterday when I heard the news that Jim Peebles had been awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics, but this week the man himself has been in Stockholm receiving the honour amid a number of press engagements and other formalities including the Nobel Lecture, which has now appeared on Youtube and is well worth watching if you’re at all interested in cosmology!


Peebles Princeton Press Conference

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on October 10, 2019 by telescoper

Here I am in the Departure Lounge of Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2 ready for a quick trip to Poundland. To fill in a few minutes before my flight I thought I’d post this video of the press conference held at Princeton University upon the announcement of the award of a Nobel Prize to Jim Peebles. It’s full of interesting things but I particularly liked this quote:

My advice is not to aim for prizes and awards. They will come or they won’t. Don’t judge your career by their number, by the count of prizes. We’re in this for the joy of research, the fascination, the love of science. That is the reward really…

Don’t judge yourself by the awards. Judge yourself by how well you have done, and do your best.

For me that sums up the whole reason for being a physicist. Even those of us who have no chance of winning awards or prizes and whose achievements are at most modest can still feel the joy and the love of science. That is the reward.


A Nobel Prize for Jim Peebles!

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2019 by telescoper

I’ve just dashed back in excitement to the office from two hours of mandatory Financial Report Training to write a quick post before my 12 o’clock lecture on Astrophysics & Cosmology because of the news about the award of the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics.

My recent post was half right in the sense that half this year’s prize goes to Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz for the discovery of an extrasolar planet. I don’t know either of them personally, but heartiest congratulations to both!

My heart lept with joy, however, to see the other half of the prize go to Jim Peebles (above) for his work on theoretical cosmology. Much of the reason for that is that I’ve had the great honour and pleasure to meet Jim many times over the years. He is not only a truly great scientist but also a extremely nice man whose kindness and generosity is universally recognized. He’s not known as `Gentleman Jim’ for nothing!

The other reason for the excitement is that I was completely taken by surprise by the announcement. I had feared that his chance of winning a Nobel Prize had passed – I argued at the time that Jim should have been awarded a share of the 2006 Nobel Prize because without his amazing pioneering theoretical work the importance of the cosmic microwave background for cosmology and the large-scale structure of the Universe would not have been established so rapidly. As an author of the first paper to provide a theoretical interpretation of the signal detected by Penzias and Wilson, Jim was there right at the start of the modern era of cosmology and his subsequent work constructed the foundations of the theory of structure formation through gravitational instability. I was sad that he didn’t get a share in 2006 for this work, but am absolutely delighted that this has been rectified now!

This was one of the first cosmology books I ever bought. It’s an amazing piece of work that has been essential reading for cosmologists for almost 40 years!

Congratulations to Jim!

Now let me think about what to say to my students about this!