James Peebles

Banquet speech

James Peebles’ speech at the Nobel Banquet, 10 December 2019.

Your Majesties
Your Royal Highnesses
Dear Laureates and guests
Ladies and gentlemen

I rise on behalf of Michel Mayor, Didier Queloz, and myself to thank the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Nobel Foundation for their recognition of our pure curiosity-driven research that we can be sure never will be monetized but nonetheless enriches the human experience.

Research such as ours is driven by the human imperative to understand where we are. It motivates the study of our positions in family, or in society, or on earth. The results may be termed geology, or sociology, or poetry. Others explore smaller scales, from molecular biology down to quarks and whatever they’re made of.

Mayor, Queloz and I have examined where we are in the larger scheme of things. It reveals  that in our neighborhood in our galaxy there are at least as many planets around stars as there are stars. There must be enormous numbers of planets around the stars in the many galaxies in our observable universe. We may be sure that wonderful things are happening on these planets that the human race never will observe. Our primal curiosity has been satisfied and cautioned; here are great advances and clear limitations.

We have compelling evidence that our universe evolved from an exceedingly hot dense state, and that this evolution is well described by Einstein‘s general theory of relativity. It is deeply impressive to see once again that our world operates by rules we can discover.

Research in the natural sciences operates in successive approximations. We are glad to be able to offer many good problems for research by generations to come.

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2019


To cite this section
MLA style: James Peebles – Banquet speech. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Mon. 24 Jun 2024. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/2019/peebles/speech/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Nobel Prizes and laureates

Eleven laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2023, for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. Their work and discoveries range from effective mRNA vaccines and attosecond physics to fighting against the oppression of women.

See them all presented here.

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.