- Title: 'It seemed logical': scientist of far-away planets wins Nobel prize for physics
- Date: 8th October 2019
- Summary: PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES (OCTOBER 8, 2019) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** PRINCETON UNIVERSITY COSMOLOGIST, JAMES PEEBLES, SPEAKING TO COLLEAGUES AFTER BEING AWARDED NOBEL PRIZE, SAYING (English): 'THIS SUCH A WONDERFUL PLACE' VARIOUS MORE OF PEEBLES SPEAKING, SAYING (English): 'I KEPT BEING SURPRISED BY WHAT YOU PEOPLE COULD DO, MEASUREMENTS, THAT DETECTED [PHENOMENON]' PEEBLES BEING APPLAUDED AND TOASTED EQUATIONS ON CHALKBOARD PEEBLES TALKING ON PHONE IN OFFICE (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRINCETON UNIVERSITY COSMOLOGIST, JAMES PEEBLES, SAYING "Well, you know a call early in the morning, this was 5:30 in our time (0930 GMT), is either very bad news or very good news. So was there a little trepidation? Perhaps. But was there also a little fear, little thought that this might be the Nobel committee calling? Yes, because you understand I have been working in this subject since 1964 - 55 years. I've made progress, considerable through those years. Why not the Nobel Prize? It seemed logical." PEEBLES IN OFFICE WITH COLLEAGUE CLOSE OF PEBBLES' HANDS, SAYING (English): '[A CLASS] WROTE DOWN ALL OF MY JOKES IN MY QUANTUM MECHANICS COURSE, AND PRINTED THEM, AND GAVE ME A COPY' MORE OF PEEBLES ON PHONE (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRINCETON UNIVERSITY COSMOLOGIST, JAMES PEEBLES, SAYING "The clock is at hazard, for example, I loved to take it apart. I loved also nature, to see tadpoles in little ponds, to watch those big trees. I loved, I loved electricity. I acquired batteries and made electromagnets and the like. So from my earliest days, I just loved doing elementary science." PEEBLES ON PHONE AT DESK
- Embargoed: 22nd October 2019 16:00
- Keywords: physics Nobel Prize Princeton University James Peebles Michael Mayor Didier Queloz
- Location: PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES
- City: PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Science
- Reuters ID: LVA001B08J493
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Canadian-American cosmologist James Peebles told Reuters on Tuesday (October 8) he wasn't surprised when he got the call notifying him he was being awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics.
Peebles - who will share the prize with Swiss scientists Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz - had after all been working on the evolution of the universe and discovering distant planets since 1964.
"I've made progress, considerable through those years," Peebles told Reuters from his office at Princeton University. "Why not the Nobel Prize? It seemed logical."
Using theoretical tools and calculations, Peebles was able to interpret trace radiation from the infancy of the universe and discover new physical processes, the Nobel academy said.
He showed that matter readily seen around us, be it pebbles, mountains or stars actually make up only 5%, with the rest made up of dark energy and dark matter.
Peebles was celebrated with a champagne toast at Princeton on Tuesday morning.
He's been awarded half of the 9-million-Swedish-crown ($910,000) prize while Mayor and Queloz, from Switzerland's University of Geneva and Britain's Cambridge University, shared the rest.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the scientists' research had "transformed our ideas about the cosmos".
Mayor and his one-time doctoral student Queloz said it was "simply extraordinary" to be awarded a Nobel for what they described as "the most exciting discovery of our entire career".
The pair announced the first discovery of a planet outside our own solar system, a so-called "exoplanet", in 1995.
Since their discovery, more than 4,000 exoplanets have been found in the Milky Way, many of them nothing like our own world. Indeed, the first planet they found, 51 Pegasi b, orbits a sun 50 light years away that heats its surface to more than 1,000 degrees centigrade, the award-giving academy said.
With numerous ongoing searches for more exoplanets, this science might eventually also "find an answer to the eternal question of whether other life is out there," it said.
Physics is the second Nobel to be awarded this week; William Kaelin, Gregg Semenza and Peter Ratcliffe shared the medicine prize on Monday for discoveries about how cells respond to oxygen levels.
The Nobel prizes were created in a bequest by Swedish dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel and have been awarded since 1901. This year's physics prize will be followed by the awards for chemistry on Wednesday, literature on Thursday and the peace prize on Friday.
(Production by: Dan Fastenberg, Eduardo Munoz)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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