Nobel Laureate dispells fears of 'doomsday'

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Jan 5 2010, 01:28am hrs
Nobel Laureate, Dr John Cromwell Mather today rejected the doomsday threat in 2012 as having no scientific evidence. He said that an infrared-optimised James Webb space telescope will be launched by 2014 to study the origin of the Universe and explore its mystery. This project will supported by NASA, European space agency and Canadian space research organisation at an estimated investment of 1000 million Euros.

He said that several projects were taken up scape research organisations of different countries to study the origin of the universe like the Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite (COBE) in 1989, Wilkinsons Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) in 2001 and Planck in 2009. The COBE spectrum matched exactly with the predictions of the Big Bang Theory, he said.

Dr Mather is here in India participating in the 97th Indian Science Congress in Thiruvananthapuram.

He informed that the James Webb space telescope has a diameter of 6.5 m and will be put in Lagrangian point 2 (1.2). The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will observe gravity waves from collapsing objects out to the edge of the universe. We will try to understand the formation of stars and see inside the dust clouds and planets around the stars, he said.

He said that the James Webb space telescope will be sent on an Ariane-5 launch vehicle of the European space agency and the spectrum of wavelength to be used would be between 0.6um and 28um. He, however, said the telescope is not powerful enough in tracking any extraterrestrial life.

Dr Mather apprised that the universe was expanding and the rate of expansion has increased in the last 5 billion years due to unknown phenomenon called `dark energy. We know that dark energy exists but we do not know how much it is there. Space agencies of some countries are working on dark energy, he said.

Dr Mather is an US astrophysicist and cosmologist. He was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) project which led to the discovery of the blackbody from anisotropy of the microwave background radiation.

According to the Nobel Prize Committee COBE project can also be regarded as the starting point for cosmology as a precision science. This work helped cement the Big Bang Theory of the origin of the universe.