Robert Woodrow Wilson
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1978
Born: 10 January 1936, Houston, TX, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, NJ, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation."
Prize share: 1/4
Radiation falls toward the earth from outer space. This cosmic radiation initially appeared to become weaker as wavelengths of the radiation became shorter. However, when Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias studied cosmic radiation in 1964, they discovered that microwaves with a wavelength of about 7 centimeters were stronger than expected. At first they thought that the results were caused by distortions or faults in the measurements, but that was not the case. This cosmic background radiation probably is a remnant of the Big Bang when the universe was created.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.