John Mather and NASA’s former Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) team are co-recipients of the 2006 Gruber Cosmology Prize for landmark studies confirming that the universe was born in a hot Big Bang.

Mather and the COBE team received the honor “for their groundbreaking studies of the spectrum and spatial structure of the relic radiation from the Big Bang,” the prize citation said. “With these results, the COBE team, led by John Mather, set cosmology’s agenda for decades to come and profoundly affected our understanding of cosmic evolution.”

The instruments aboard COBE, launched in 1989, looked back over 13 billion years to the early universe and found that it was hot, dense, and almost uniform; that it contained weak fluctuations or lumps that grew into the galaxies and stars visible today; that the fluctuations were the consequence of a Big Bang; and that the universe is filled with...

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