2019 Nobel Prize for Physics Jointly Awarded to Three Scientists

The prize is awarded for contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth's place in the cosmos.
Fabienne Lang
The photo credit line may appear like thisNiklas Elmehed/Nobel Media 2019

The Nobel Prize for Physics 2019 was announced today in Stockholm.

It was jointly given to acclaimed scientists James Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz. 

The renowned prize was given to them for their contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe.


Dr. James Peebles and cosmic theory

The first half of the award was given to Dr. James Peebles, a Canadian scientist at Princeton University, for his contributions to theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology.

Peebles discovered the importance of cosmic radiation. His theoretical tools assisted science in understanding the dark components of our Universe better.

By using the science of precision, based on mathematical foundation and cosmology, he changed what we knew into what's now known as physical cosmology

On a direct phone call with Peebles from the Academy's press conference, the recent Nobel Laureate answered a few questions:

Swedish Public Service Television asked, "Less than 5% is actually matter that we can detect, what is your take on the other 95% - what is dark matter and dark energy?"

To which Peebles responded, "Dark matter and dark energy are mysterious. Although we've made great advances, there are still many open questions."

2019 Nobel Prize for Physics Jointly Awarded to Three Scientists
James Peebles. Source: Princeton University

Swedish TV4 asked, "It's been 14 billion years since our Universe was created. Do you think there is life on other planets?"

Peebles responded, "This is only a guess, it is remarkable and ironic that we can be very sure there are many planets, and among them surely life would be suitable for life of some sort. There will be something we may be willing to call life. Whether they may be at all like life on our Earth, would be very hard for me to know. We will never, ever, see these other lives, these other planets. It shows the limitations, the great advances, and powers in science, but also its limitations." 

His advice to young people entering science today: "You should enter it for the love and fascination of science."

Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz

The other half of the award was jointly awarded to Swiss scientists, Michel Mayor from the University of Geneva, and Didier Queloz, also from the University of Geneva and the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge.

The two scientists were given the award for their October 1995 discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star. The first exoplanet to be discovered. Since then, many more exoplanets have been discovered. 

We now know there are many different kinds of planetary existence. Thanks to Mayor and Queloz's exoplanet discovery, further exoplanet studies have been able to occur, through which we have learned more about the physics of how planets form and evolve.

We're able to understand our own planetary home in a better way, thanks to their discovery.

2019 Nobel Prize for Physics Jointly Awarded to Three Scientists
Didier Queloz. Source: University of Geneva

As Mayor and Queloz were not able to view the planet directly, they had to use other, unknown methods. They were then able to study an anonymous star 50 light-years away from Earth. 

2019 Nobel Prize for Physics Jointly Awarded to Three Scientists
Michel Mayor. Source: University of Geneva

No one knew this type of planet could exist, until their discovery. 

2019 Nobel Prize for Physics Jointly Awarded to Three Scientists
Source: MATJAZ SLANIC/iStock

The discoveries and studies of Peebles, Mayor, and Queloz combined have painted a picture of our Universe, far more wonderful than we ever could have planned.

These three scientists have changed our perspective forever.


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