PROFESSOR GEORGE F. SMOOT
Astrophysicist, Cosmologist, Nobel Laureate
Prof George Smoot received the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics, along with Prof John Mather, for the discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Becoming a Nobel Laureate brought a new dimension to his life: alongside research and teaching, he was now in demand as a speaker and commentator on science-related issues in the wider world. It is a role he has happily embraced, as he believes scientists have a duty to share information with the public, and explain their work in simple language.
The importance that his parents placed on education and knowledge lit a spark that hasn’t dimmed to this day. He spent part of his childhood in Alaska, as a result of his father’s job and love of the outdoors. Here, the young George also discovered a new way of life more directly linked with nature and the juxtaposition to modern technology and understanding of mankind.
Prof Smoot was fascinated by a broad range of subjects, but eventually focused on physics, not only because it fitted his skills but also his temperament to understand things at a deep, fundamental level. Today, he is readjusting his focus to taking basic physics discoveries and understanding and applying them so as to make peoples’ lives better through innovations and products, particularly in the fields of air quality and medicine. He sees his role to inspire and encourage smart young people, to set them off on the path to discovery.
Prof Smoot gained his BSc and PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His primary research is in two areas: observational cosmology and particle physics utilizing the cosmic background radiation as a probe of the early universe; and cosmic radiation measurement utilizing balloon-borne superconducting magnetic spectrometers. His other honors include the NASA Medal for Exceptional Science Achievement, Kilby Award, Lawrence Award, and Albert Einstein Medal.