'Big Bang' theory expert to speak at SIUE

News-DemocratSeptember 25, 2013 

— Ever wanted to know how the universe started and how it will end, as related by a Nobel Prize winner?

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville will get the chance, as John Mather of NASA will speak Thursday evening as part of SIUE's ongoing Arts & Issues program.

Mather is a senior astrophysicist at the Goddard Space Flight Center, specializing in infrared astronomy and cosmology for NASA. He was a co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in physics.

His current project is development of the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be the successor to the Hubble Telescope.

It's expected that Webb will look even further back in time than Hubble was able to do, to look at the places where stars and planets are being born - or were millions of years ago, and their light is just now reaching Earth.

Mather received a bachelor's degree in physics from Swarthmore College and a doctorate in physics from the University of California-Berkeley. In the 1970s, he led the proposal efforts for the Cosmic Background Explorer Mission and worked on other projects that clarified scientists' understanding cosmic microwave background radiation, thus confirming the "Big Bang" theory of the universe's creation to "extraordinary accuracy," according to his NASA biography.

He has been working on the Webb telescope since 1995, as leader of the science team.

The Nobel Prize was shared with George Smoot of the University of California for their work using the COBE satellite to measure heat radiation from the Big Bang.

At SIUE, Mather will speak on "The History of the Universe From Beginnning to End," talking about the Big Bang through to today and on to the end of the universe.

Tickets are still available at $15 for the general public. Tickets for university faculty, staff, retirees, alumni and seniors are $10. Students may attend for free. For more information, visit www.artsandissues.com.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 239-2507.

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