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Arno A. Penzias, 90, Dies; Nobel Physicist Confirmed Big Bang Theory

Space & Cosmos|Arno A. Penzias, 90, Dies; Nobel Physicist Confirmed Big Bang Theory

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/22/science/space/arno-a-penzias-dead.html

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His 1964 discovery with Robert W. Wilson settled a debate over the origin and evolution of the universe.

A black and white photo of Dr. Penzias posing in front of laboratory equipment composed of steel cylinders and electronic gear mounted on a large console. He wears a tie and suit vest over a white shirt.
Dr. Arno A. Penzias in a 1991 photo at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. He and Dr. Robert W. Wilson were researchers there in 1964 when they discovered cosmic microwave background radiation, remnants of the Big Bang.Credit…Frank C. Dougherty

Arno A. Penzias, whose astronomical probes yielded incontrovertible evidence of a dynamic, evolving universe with a clear point of origin, confirming what became known as the Big Bang theory, died on Monday in San Francisco. He was 90.

His death, in an assisted living facility, was caused by complications of Alzheimer’s disease, his son, David, said.

Dr. Penzias (pronounced PEN-zee-as) shared one-half of the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics with Robert Woodrow Wilson for their discovery in 1964 of cosmic microwave background radiation, remnants of an explosion that gave birth to the universe some 14 billion years ago. That explosion, known as the Big Bang, is now the widely accepted explanation for the origin and evolution of the universe. (A third physicist, Pyotr Kapitsa of Russia, received the other half of the prize, for unrelated advances in developing liquid helium.)

Until Dr. Penzias and Dr. Wilson published their observations, the Big Bang theory competed with the steady-state theory, which envisioned a more static, timeless expanse growing into infinite space, with new matter formed to fill the gaps.


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