Growing up in the country allowed John C. Mather, PhD, to get a clear view of the stars. That early exploration set him on the path to winning a Nobel Prize in Physics.
Dr. John C. Mather nurtured his love for science in the summer programs sponsored by the National Space Foundation. He eventually gained a graduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley with a doctoral thesis about cosmic microwave background radiation.
Dr. Mather failed in his first attempts to build a system measuring cosmic radiation, but he received a chance to revisit his design in 1974 when NASA asked for satellite project proposals. He realized performing the measurements in space was ideal. It would avoid interference from Earth’s heat and noise.
His ideas met early resistance from his peers in the scientific community. NASA decided to give his proposal a chance, however, naming Dr. John C. Mather as a Study Scientist to the project dubbed COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer).
The 1980s saw Dr. Mather in charge of a team of scientists and engineers overseeing the project. It launched to great success in 1989 when his design succeeded in recording temperature radiation from 13 million years ago.
His data yielded the discovery of a “blackbody” pattern, which validated the work of Dr. Stephen Hawking and others on the big bang theory. Because of this, he received the Nobel Prize in 2006 for his work.
Dr. John C. Mather created a scholarship fund with the prize money via the National Space Grant Foundation. It is used to help NASA interns showcase their work in front of professionals at conferences.
Dr. Mather is also famous for his another space exploration work when he became the senior scientist on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Project.
The telescope is designed to orbit the sun while synchronized with the Earth. Once launched, it will detect infrared light sent out billions of years ago from the stars. Dr. Mather helped unveil the telescope’s mirror in 2016.
He has also received recognition twice from TIME magazine. In 2007, he was listed among the 100 Most Influential People in the World. He then appeared a second time in a special New Space Discoveries issue as one of 25 Most Influential People in Space.
Dr. John C. Mather continues to work with the scientific community. He has served in various roles for the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. He remains an advocate of space exploration and discovery.
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