NASA Astrophysicist to Discuss the 'History of the Universe, in a Nutshell'

John Mather is senior project scientist for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, the planned successor to the famed Hubble Space Telescope

Release Date: April 11, 2012

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A NASA engineer looks on as the first six flight-ready segments of the James Webb Space Telescope's primary mirror are prepped to begin final cryogenic testing. Photo: NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham

NASA astrophysicist John Mather will discuss the origins of the universe and NASA's plans for a new telescope to peer into deep space.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A senior astrophysicist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center will regale guests of the University at Buffalo with a brief history of the universe.

John Mather, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who specializes in infrared astronomy and cosmology, will deliver the UB Department of Physics' 18th annual Moti Lal Rustgi Memorial Lecture on Friday, April 20 at 5 p.m. in 225 Natural Sciences Complex on UB's North Campus in Amherst, N.Y.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For information, visit or contact the Department of Physics at 716-645-2017 or

Mather's talk is titled "History of the Universe in a Nutshell: From the Big Bang to Life and the End of Time." He will explain Einstein's biggest mistake, how Edwin Hubble discovered the expansion of the universe, and how NASA missions are enabling humanity to explore the universe's beginnings.

Mather was project scientist for NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite, which measured the spectrum of the heat radiation from the Big Bang and hunted for the first objects that formed after the explosion. Findings from this mission led to Mather receiving the Nobel Prize in 2006.

Mather will also discuss NASA's plans for the next great telescope: the James Webb Space Telescope. Mather is senior project scientist for the instrument, which will look farther back in time than the Hubble Space Telescope, and peer inside the dusty cocoons where stars and planets are born.

In our hunt for Earth-like planets and signs of extraterrestrial life, the James Webb Space Telescope will be a crucial new tool. As the planned successor to the famed Hubble Space Telescope, the new instrument will augment human efforts to understand the world around us and where we come from.

The Moti Lal Rustgi Memorial Lecture is named for Professor Moti Lal Rustgi, a faculty member in the UB Department of Physics from 1966-92. To learn more, visit>>.

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