Watch: Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist John Mather '68 Looks Back in Time


The Huffington Post: John Mather, Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, Looks Back in Time

Imagine looking back in time - no, not flipping through old high school yearbooks - but really, studying the history of our universe as it was 13.7 billion years ago. Epic? No doubt. Possible? Absolutely.

In fact, Dr. John Mather, a senior astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, was awarded a Nobel Prize in physics for seeing back almost all the way to the Big Bang itself. [In 2006, along with George Smoot III, Mather was awarded the Nobel for his work on cosmic microwave background radiation.]

"We can not measure the time before time," Mather says. "People very loosely talk about the time before time, but physics has not observed the time before time. We don't even know if the words mean anything. All we're able to do is see how material transforms and changes from one state into another. So we see this radiation, we see other evidence of the early universe. We do not see the time before time. So from my perspective, the universe has always existed. The only curious thing is the clock has only ticked 13.7 billion years so far. But we're not able to see past the beginning. We don't even know if there is past the beginning." ...

John Mather '68 graduated from Swarthmore College with a major in physics and minors in mathematics and astronomy. He recieved his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California at Berkeley. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science Degree from Swarthmore in 1994 and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In addition to winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006, he has recieved a multitude of awards from organizations including NASA, the American Astronomical Society and the American Institute of Physics, and the Optical Society of America.