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Nobel Laureate to Present Chemerda Lectures in Science on 17 and 18 March 2008

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John C. Mather, senior astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will give the 2008 John M. Chemerda Lectures in Science from 17 to 18 March 2008 on the Penn State University Park campus.  Mather will present a public lecture titled "From the Big Bang to the Nobel Prize and on to James Webb Space Telescope" at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, 17 March, in the Board Room of the Nittany Lion Inn.  This free public lecture is sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science.

Mather also will give two specialized lectures as part of this series.  The first lecture, titled "Touching the Universe--Measuring the Cosmic Background Radiation, Past and Future," will take place at 4:00 p.m. on 17 March in 102 Joab L. Thomas Building.  The second lecture, titled "NASA's Next Great Observatory: The James Webb Space Telescope Project," will take place at 4:00 p.m. on 18 March in 117 Osmond Laboratory.

A world-renowned expert on infrared astronomy and cosmology, Mather won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics with George Smoot from the University of California for confirming the Big Bang theory to extraordinary accuracy.  Using the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE), a scientific satellite that was designed for cosmological investigations of the universe, Mather and Smoot found that cosmic-microwave-background radiation from the Big Bang has a spectrum that agrees exactly with the theoretical prediction.  Not only did this discovery confirm the Big Bang theory, but it also demonstrated that the event was completed almost immediately, with only a small fraction of the energy released later.

Mather led the proposal efforts for the COBE from 1974 to 1976 while employed as a postdoctoral fellow at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.  In 1976, he joined the Goddard Space Flight Center as a study scientist and was promoted to project scientist in 1988.  He later became the principal investigator for the Far Infra-Red Absolute Spectrophotometer on COBE.  Mather is now the senior project scientist for the next generation James Webb Space Telescope and chief scientist of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, where he provides independent scientific advice on all aspects of the NASA science program.

The John M. Chemerda Lectures in Science are named in honor of John M. Chemerda, a member of the Penn State Class of 1935.  For more information or access assistance, contact the Department of Physics at (814) 865-7533.

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