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UC Berkeley Web Feature

Praise for George Smoot: 'We're surprised and delighted'

– George Smoot's selection as one of the winners of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics has triggered a torrent of praise and congratulations from friends and colleagues at UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and elsewhere. Here is a sampling of the tributes.

George's work launched the last decade's worth of work in cosmology. We've always thought it was Nobel-worthy and it was just a matter of time.
 Tony Spadafora, astrophysicist in Smoot's cosmology group at LBNL  
It is one of the greatest discoveries of the century. I would call it the greatest.
  Per Carlson, chairman of the Nobel physics committee  
I think the discovery of cosmic microwave fluctuations was as revolutionary for physics as the discovery of DNA was for biology. These fluctuations are our cosmic DNA, the blueprints encoding how the baby universe would develop.
  Max Tegmark, cosmologist at M.I.T.  
I sent both George and John [Mather, Smoot's co-laureate] my congratulations as soon as I could. In my opinion their Nobel award was a slam-dunk and only a matter of time. ... When John put up his famous spectral plot [at the American Astronomical Society meeting in January 1990] he was given a standing ovation by an audience of about a thousand astronomers (I was there), the steady-state model of the universe was henceforth and forever dead. ... A major scientific view has never been so thoroughly and quickly overturned.
  Michael A. Janssen, principal scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory  
All department chairs think their faculty are exceptional. It's wonderful when the rest of the world tells you that you're right. ... It sends a message that UC Berkeley is a first rate institution for doing research, that we're doing state-of-the-art work in the most exciting areas of physics.
  Marjorie Shapiro, professor and chair of physics, UC Berkeley  
Many of his colleagues have speculated that George might win one day, but the Nobel committee is good at keeping their secret, so it was a wonderful surprise. His Nobel win will be a wonderful boost for Berkeley's physics program. It will help the visibility of the entire department, and in particular it will bring attention to the great cosmology program we have here. ... George's work has had a profound effect on our understanding of the Universe.
  Adrian Lee, associate professor of physics, UC Berkeley  
His work is at the very heart of our understanding of the origin and evolution of the universe, moving cosmology from the realm of theory to experimentation that has given us the data to test those theories. In the finest tradition of Berkeley Nobelists, George is also a dedicated teacher. In addition to working with his graduate students, he currently sponsors undergraduate researchers in his lab and this semester is teaching Physics 7B, the introductory course for science and engineering majors.
  UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau (read Birgeneau's full statement)  
The Nobel Prize recognizes groundbreaking research from my fellow physicists that expands our knowledge and understanding of the world and beyond, and dramatically illustrates the creativity, collaboration and innovation that are hallmarks of a great research institution such as the University of California.
  UC President Robert Dynes (read Dynes' full statement)  
It's been the lunch topic every day for the past week, whether one of our colleagues here would win. We're surprised and delighted — we're all pretty delirious.
  Eric Linder, astrophysicist in Smoot's cosmology group at LBNL  
I was absolutely delighted with the Nobel Prize selections. I've known George Smoot as a colleague for a number of years and we have collaborated on a number of experiments. I was equally or perhaps even more delighted with John Mather's prize because I was his thesis advisor and the work he got the Nobel prize for was following on from the thesis project I assigned him in the early 1970s. So they're both great scientists.
  Paul Richards, professors of physics, UC Berkeley