John C. Mather, senior astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize, will present a special lecture in memory of M.M. “Dunc” Duncan April 7 at 3:30 p.m. in Room 202 of the physics building. The event is free and open to the public.
Duncan was a professor emeritus in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ physics and astronomy department.
Mather’s lecture, “The history of the universe from the beginning to the end: Where did we come from, where can we go?,” will outline the history of the universe from its earliest moments in the Big Bang to its possible end.
“We are both excited and honored by Dr. Mather’s visit to UGA; this will be an outstanding and inspiring event for both students and faculty alike,” said Bill Dennis, professor and head of the physics and astronomy department. “The topic of Dr. Mather’s lecture makes it a particularly fitting memorial to Dunc, since he was an active amateur astronomer who had an intense and enduring interest in all aspects of astronomy and astrophysics.”
As a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Mather led proposal efforts for the Cosmic Background Explorer, or COBE, and later served at the Goddard Space Flight Center as the principal investigator for the Far IR Absolute Spectrophotometer on COBE. He and his team showed the cosmic microwave background radiation has a blackbody spectrum within 50 parts per million, confirming the Big Bang theory to extraordinary accuracy.
The COBE team also discovered the cosmic anisotropy, now believed to be the primordial seeds that led to the structure of the universe today. It was these findings that led to Mather receiving the Nobel Prize in 2006.