George Smoot was co-awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for “discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation.”
Smoot received dual bachelor’s degrees (1966) in mathematics and physics and a PhD (1970) in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has been at the University of California Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory since 1970.
In April 1992, Smoot announced that the COBE DMR team he led had detected the long-sought variations in the early universe which are the seeds that − under the influence of gravity − grow to be the galaxies, clusters of galaxies, and clusters of clusters that are observed in the universe today. NASA’s COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) satellite mapped the intensity of the radiation from the early Big Bang and found very small amplitude variations. These variations are also relics of creation. Smoot continued this work with the Planck satellite mission and several other observations.
Smoot has authored more than 700 science papers and is also co-author (with Keay Davidson) of the popular science book Wrinkles in Time (Harper, 1994), which elucidates cosmology and the COBE discovery. Smoot’s essay “My Einstein Suspenders” appears in My Einstein: Essays by Twenty-four of the World’s Leading Thinkers on the Man, His Work, and His Legacy (Ed. John Brockman, Pantheon, 2006).
Smoot continues his research in cosmology and is currently involved in the Euclid and now the JWST missions. Euclid is a mission to understand the dark energy causing the current expansion of the universe to accelerate. The JWST mission is the James Webb Space Telescope which began observations in July 2020. A primary goal for the project is observations distinguishing the nature of Dark Matter.