After just a day of announcing three scientists as the winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize for Medicine, yet another three scientists have won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics.
James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz were awarded the Nobel Prize on Tuesday, October 8th 2019, for their contribution to the understanding of the evolution of the universe and “Earth’s place in the cosmos.”
According to the statement released by the Nobel Prize organisation, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics “for contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth’s place in the cosmos” with one half to James Peebles “for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology” and the other half jointly to Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz “for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star.”
This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics rewards new understanding of the universe’s structure and history, and the first discovery of a planet orbiting a solar-type star outside our solar system.
James Peebles took on the cosmos, with its billions of galaxies and galaxy clusters. His theoretical framework, which he developed over two decades, starting in the mid-1960s, is the foundation of our modern understanding of the universe’s history, from the Big Bang to the present day.
Peebles’ discoveries have led to insights about our cosmic surroundings, in which known matter comprises just five per cent of all the matter and energy contained in the universe. The remaining 95 per cent is hidden from us. This is a mystery and a challenge to modern physics.
Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz have explored our home galaxy, the Milky Way, looking for unknown worlds. In 1995, they made the very first discovery of a planet outside our solar system, an exoplanet, orbiting a solar-type star.
Their discovery challenged our ideas about these strange worlds and led to a revolution in astronomy. The more than 4,000 known exoplanets are surprising in their richness of forms, as most of these planetary systems look nothing like our own, with the Sun and its planets.
These discoveries have led researchers to develop new theories about the physical processes responsible for the birth of planets.
This year’s laureates have transformed our ideas about the cosmos.
One half of the award was given to James Peebles “for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology,” and the other half jointly to Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz “for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star.”
At a news conference where the winners were announced, professor Ulf Danielsson used a transparent cup with black coffee, poured milk in it and added a pinch of sugar to illustrate the work of the laureates of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics— James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz
He added, “This is the dark energy, then a fair amount of cream, this is the dark matter, and then just a tiny little bit of sugar. This is the ordinary matter, this is what science has been all about for thousands of years.”
Danielsson went on, “We had thought that other solar systems would be similar to our own. We were wrong.”