James Peebles Awarded Nobel Prize in Physics 2019

James Peebles, Member (1977–78) and Visitor (1990–91, 1998–99) in the School of Natural Sciences, has been recognized with the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics.

The prize honors "contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth's place in the cosmos." Peebles, who is awarded one half of the prize, is recognized specifically "for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology." The other half of the prize is awarded jointly to Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, "for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star."

Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center
James Peebles at the Einstein Centennial Symposium at IAS in March 1979

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences further cites Peebles for his "insights into physical cosmology," which have "enriched the entire field of research and laid a foundation for the transformation of cosmology over the last fifty years, from speculation to science. His theoretical framework, developed since the mid-1960s, is the basis of our contemporary ideas about the universe."

"Nobody has done more for our theoretical understanding of the origin, composition, and evolution of the universe than Jim Peebles," said Robbert Dijkgraaf, IAS Director and Leon Levy Professor. "Building on Albert Einstein’s theory, Jim’s work allows us to reconstruct the history of the cosmos from the earliest signal emitted just after the Big Bang. Through his work at Princeton University and the Institute, he also made Princeton one of the leading centers of cosmology.”

Peebles, who is currently the Albert Einstein Professor of Science, Emeritus, at Princeton University, served on the organizing committee for General Relativity at 100, a celebration of the centennial of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, organized by the Institute and Princeton University in 2015. The conference included a discussion moderated by Peebles on the seminal role of Princeton physicists, particularly John Wheeler and Bob Dicke and their students, in advancing an examination of general relativity. Watch the video and others from the conference here.

Read more at the Nobel Foundation.


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