Robert Woodrow Wilson
Robert Woodrow Wilson
Wilson in 2016
|Alma mater||Rice University|
California Institute of Technology
|Known for||Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation|
|Awards||Henry Draper Medal (1977)|
Nobel Prize in Physics (1978)
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Robert Woodrow Wilson (born January 10, 1936) is an American astronomer who, along with Arno Allan Penzias, discovered cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) in 1964. The pair won the 1978 Nobel prize in physics for their discovery.
While doing tests and experiments with the Holmdel Horn Antenna at Bell Labs in Holmdel Township, New Jersey, Wilson and Penzias discovered a source of noise in the atmosphere that they could not explain. After removing all potential sources of noise, including pigeon droppings on the antenna, the noise was finally identified as CMB, which served as important corroboration of the Big Bang theory.
In 1970 Wilson led a team that made the first detection of a rotational spectral line of carbon monoxide (CO) in an astronomical object, the Orion Nebula, and eight other galactic sources. Subsequently CO observations became the standard method of tracing cool molecular interstellar gas, and detection of CO was the foundational event for the fields of millimeter and submillimeter astronomy.
Life and work
Robert Woodrow Wilson was born on January 10, 1936, in Houston, Texas. He graduated from Lamar High School in River Oaks, in Houston, and studied as an undergraduate at Rice University, also in Houston, where he was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa society. He then earned a PhD in physics at California Institute of Technology.
Wilson is one of the 20 American recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics to sign a letter addressed to President George W. Bush in May of 2008, urging him to "reverse the damage done to basic science research in the Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill" by requesting additional emergency funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
- May 2014, Mike Wall 20. "Cosmic Anniversary: 'Big Bang Echo' Discovered 50 Years Ago Today". Space.com. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
- "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1978". NobelPrize.org. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
- Penzias, A.A.; Wilson, R.W. (1965). "A Measurement of Excess Antenna Temperature at 4080 Mc/s". Astrophysical Journal. 142: 419–421. Bibcode:1965ApJ...142..419P. doi:10.1086/148307.
- Wilson, R.W.; Jefferts, K.B.; Penzias, A.A. (1970). "Carbon Monoxide in the Orion Nebula". Astrophysical Journal. 161: L43–L44. Bibcode:1970ApJ...161..L43P. doi:10.1086/180567.
- "Distinguished HISD Alumni Archived 2012-02-25 at WebCite," Houston Independent School District
- "Henry Draper Medal". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
- "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2014-04-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Nobel Lectures, Physics 1971-1980, Editor Stig Lundqvist, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1992. Autobiography on Nobelprize.org. Accessed March 15, 2011. "We still live in the house in Holmdel which we bought when I first came to Bell Laboratories."
- "Robert Woodrow Wilson - Biographical". www.nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2016-06-07.
- "Robert Woodrow Wilson". www.nndb.com. Retrieved 2016-06-07.
- "A Letter from America's Physics Nobel Laureates" (PDF).
- "Distinguished HISD Alumni", Houston Independent School District, Houston, Texas, 2008.
- Cite Video | BBC/WGBH BOSTON | NOVA #519 | A Whisper From Space | Copyright 1978 | Available With Permission | Consolidated Aircraft - Ronkonkoma, New York
- Robert Woodrow Wilson on Nobelprize.org including the Nobel Lecture, December 8, 1978 The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation