Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Swedish prize - part 2

(As I was saying yesterday...) this morning saw the announcement of the Nobel prize for Physics. It went to two guys (Smoot and Mather who were the PIs - Principal Investigators - on the COBE satellite) and is for an astrophysics based discovery (hooray!) - measuring the blackbody temperature and finding anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background (CMBR) using said COBE satellite. I'll leave it to Sean at Cosmic Variance to explain this in more detail in his post here. Quite a few other people have written about this to in a far more informed way than I can manage if you search about a bit. This is the second Nobel prize to go the the CMBR, the first being it's discovery by Penzias and Wilson in 1965. I predict that if there's another Nobel going to CMBR based discoveries in the not too distant future (and I'm sure it'll be trying for the hat-trick) it'll be for the discovery of a stochastic background of gravitational waves in the polarisation of the microwave background. That may just be my gravitational wave bias talking though.