Published: Wed, October 09, 2019

Nobel week continues with the Chemistry Prize

Nobel week continues with the Chemistry Prize

Canadian born scientist James Peebles is one of three people who have won the Nobel Prize in Physics this year.

"While James Peebles' theoretical discoveries contributed to our understanding of how the universe evolved after the Big Bang, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz explored our cosmic neighborhoods on the hunt for unknown planets".

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Dr. Peebles received his undergraduate degree at the University of Manitoba and then went on to graduate work at Princeton starting in 1958.

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. That year the two discovered exoplanet 51 Pegasi b (named after the star it orbits) - a gas giant planet about half the size of Jupiter that circles a star comparable to our sun.

That can't quite be said for Peebles' theoretical work. Including the idea that other systems throughout the galaxy could harbor the necessary conditions for life ever.

Peebles' office is full of theses, books and plants, says Page, and he goes to group lunches with students in his department on Fridays. Queloz also works at the University of Cambridge in Britain.

Peebles said the awards and prizes are "very much appreciated" but said that's not why young people should study the sciences.

"We are in this for the joy of research, the fascination, the love of science". Whether they may be at all like life on our Earth, would be very hard for me to know.


Peebles laughed repeatedly when he spoke by telephone with The Associated Press.

This handout photo obtained October 8, 2019 shows Professor James Peebles speaking during the 43rd annual Donald R. Hamilton Lecture at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey.

Candidates eligible for the physics prize are nominated by qualified persons and invited by the Nobel Committee to submit names for consideration.

The trio will share the prize money of nine million kronor (£738,000).

All three laureates will travel to Stockholm on December 10 to accept their Nobel medals. In the episode, two of the main characters, Sheldon and Amy, win the physics prize. The University of Waterloo's Donna Strickland was honoured last in 2018. The coveted Nobel Peace Prize is Friday and the economics award on Monday.

The nominees in all categories - whose names are never announced and can not be revealed until 50 years have passed - are picked by members of academies, university professors, scientists, previous Nobel Laureates, and members of parliamentary assemblies.

Marcy, who left the University of California Berkeley after accusations of sexual harassment, said he didn't know if he would have shared in the prize if it weren't for the scandal.

According to a press release by Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Peebles' insights into physical cosmology 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.

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