Canadian-American cosmologist James Peebles and Swiss scientists Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics on Tuesday for revealing the wonder of the evolution of the universe and discovering planets orbiting distant suns. Peebles, of Princeton University in the US, was awarded half of the 9-million-Swedish-crown (US$910,000) prize while Mayor and Queloz, from Switzerland’s University of Geneva and Britain’s Cambridge University, shared the rest.
“This year’s Nobel laureates have painted a picture of our universe far stranger and more wonderful than we could ever have imagined,” Ulf Danielsson, a professor and member of the Nobel Committee for Physics, told reporters as the prize was announced. 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 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 Celsius, 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.
At a news conference in London, Queloz said the focus of research had now shifted from finding more planets to finding out more about them — about their atmosphere, chemistry and formation. Queloz also fielded inevitable questions about the possibility of extraterrestrial life. “I can’t believe that we’re the only living entities in the universe,” he said when asked if he believes “aliens” exist. “The chemistry that led to life is everywhere, so I’m a strong believer that there must be life elsewhere.”
Peebles thanked the Nobel committee for the award, although he said his advice to young people wishing to go into science would be not to be lured by the prospect of such prizes. “The awards and prizes, well, they are charming and very much appreciated, but ... you should enter science because you are fascinated by it. That’s what I did,” he told reporters by telephone after the award announcement.
Physics is the second Nobel awarded last week; William Kaelin, Gregg Semenza and Peter Ratcliffe shared the medicine prize on Monday for discoveries about how cells sense and respond to oxygen levels. Among the Nobels, physics has often taken center stage with winners featuring some of the greatest names in the history of science such as Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Niels Bohr, as well as inventors such as radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi.
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 percent, with the rest made up of dark energy and dark matter.
The long wait is finally over, as the Taipei Area reopens for large concerts. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, dozens of shows at the venue were forced to be canceled this year. After the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) relaxed its restrictions across public venues on June 7, applications to hold events at the multipurpose stadium are once again being accepted. Singer Eric Chou will become the first to perform at the Taipei Arena as it reopens, bringing back his Deluxe concert tour with two shows on Saturday and Sunday. On Aug. 15, online retailer PChome Online will stage a
Stonehenge, a Neolithic wonder in southern England, has vexed historians and archaeologists for centuries with its many mysteries: How was it built? What purpose did it serve? Where did its towering sandstone boulders come from? That last question may finally have an answer after a study published on July 29 found that most of the giant stones — known as sarsens — seem to share a common origin 25km away in West Woods, an area that teemed with prehistoric activity. The finding boosts the theory that the megaliths were brought to Stonehenge about the same time: around 2,500 BC, the monument’s second
A: OK then, tell me what you would do if you hit the jackpot. B: First things first, I would buy a beautiful mansion with a large landscaped garden, including a hedge maze, and a large lake with a family of white swans. A: Wow, you’ve really thought it through in detail. What next? B: Next, I will found a television company called Happy News TV. It will cover only positive and uplifting news stories. There’s too much negative news in the world today, so I want to spend my money spreading happiness. A: I like the idea, but I think