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Nobel laureate to present physics lecture at K-State about James Webb Space Telescope 

Friday, Sept. 29, 2023



MANHATTAN — Kansas State University will host Nobel laureate John C. Mather from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center for the 2023 Chester Peterson Jr. Public Lecture in Physics.

Mather will present "Opening the Infrared Treasure Chest with the James Webb Space Telescope" at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3, in 101 Cardwell Hall at K-State. The non-technical lecture is free and open to the public, and it will also be available virtually.

Mather is a senior astrophysicist at the Goddard Space Flight Center and an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Maryland. He has been leading the James Webb Space Telescope science team since the project began in 1995. He and George Smoot received the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite and subsequent discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

The James Webb Space Telescope, launched Dec. 25, 2021, produces magnificent images of galaxies, active galactic nuclei, star-forming regions and planets. It can detect objects in the solar system from Mars outward and observe a tiny bumblebee as far away as the moon in reflected sunlight and thermal emission. Scientists are using it to hunt for objects that formed after the Big Bang, including the first black holes, and to observe the growth of galaxies, the formation of stars and planetary systems, and exoplanets.

For the lecture, Mather will describe how the team built the Webb telescope, what they have found and what the future might hold. Refreshments will be provided at 4 p.m. in 119 Cardwell Hall.

Mather will also give the physics department's colloquium presentation, "New Technologies for New Astronomy," at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2, in 102 Cardwell Hall.

The Peterson lecture series, presented by the physics department in the College of Arts and Sciences, is supported by an endowment from Chester Peterson, Jr., aimed at publicizing and presenting an annual public lecture concerning cosmology and quantum mechanics.

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2023 Chester Peterson Jr. Public Lecture in Physics


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John C. Mather

Nobel laureate John C. Mather, senior astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and leader of the James Webb Space Telescope science team, will present a free, non-technical lecture at K-State on Oct. 3. 

Written by

Marcia Locke