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George F. Smoot

AKA George Fitzgerald Smoot III

Born: 20-Feb-1945
Birthplace: Yukon, FL

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Physicist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Big bang

For finding the early fingerprints of cosmological evolution, physicist George F. Smoot and his colleague John C. Mather were awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics. Smoot, a physics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, asked the school's marching band to act out the Big Bang on the football field, and had their choreography videotaped as a visual aid for his Nobel acceptance speech. "It's a little more complicated than 'Go Bears'", Smoot said, "but it's just as important."

Smoot studied cosmic background radiation, and analyzed data from the $160-million Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE), a NASA satellite designed to detect extremely small fluctuations in the microwave background left over from the Big Bang that created the universe 10-15 billion years ago. COBE detected the first evidence of the early universe's structure, and also tiny ripples in the temperature of background radiation -- consistent with big bang theory. Stephen Hawking called it "the discovery of the century, if not of all time", and Smoot himself said "It really is like finding the driving mechanism for the universe, and isn't that what God is?"

Father: George Smoot II (hydrologist)
Mother: (science teacher)

    High School: Upper Arlington High School, Upper Arlington, OH (1962)
    University: BS Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1966)
    University: BS Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1966)
    University: PhD Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1970)
    Scholar: Astrophysics, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (1974-)
    Professor: Physics, UC Berkeley (1994-)

    E. O. Lawrence Award 1994
    Albert Einstein Medal 2003
    Nobel Prize for Physics 2006 (with John C. Mather)
    American Physical Society
    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Official Website:

Author of books:
Wrinkles in Time (1993, with Keay Davidson)

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