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APRIL 6-9, 2009

Contemplating the birth of the universe

Prof. George F. Smoot

Keynote Speaker

Professor George Fitzgerald Smoot is the Director of the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics who was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation".

In April 1992 Professor Smoot made the announcement that the team he led had detected the long sought variations in the early universe that had been observed by the COBE DMR. NASA's COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) satellite mapped the intensity of the radiation from the early Big Bang and found variations so small they had to be the seeds on which gravity worked to grow the galaxies, clusters of galaxies and clusters of clusters that are observed in the universe today. These variations are also relics of creation.

As team leader for the group that designed and studied information from one of the three instruments on the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite,
Professor Smoot is responsible for the best picture of the early universe available to science. Using instruments carried by balloon, on U-2 spy planes, and finally by satellite, Professor Smoot has spent the last twenty years examining the faint but ever present microwave radiation remnants from the time when light first became visible in the universe, 300,000 years after the big bang and 15 billion years ago.

Destroying the conception of the universe then held by most astronomers, in 1977 Professor Smoot discovered that our galaxy is not only involved in the general expansion as is everything in the universe, but it is also traveling over a million miles per hour relative to the universe's expansion, demonstrating that matter was distributed unevenly throughout the universe, instead of uniformly as was thought. The data showed that the universe is not rotating and that it is apparently expanding with uniform speed in all directions. The most startling discovery was that the Milky Way is moving at over a million miles per hour relative to the rest of the universe, meaning that an object of an enormous size, such as a supercluster of galaxies, must be exerting gravity on and pulling our galaxy.

Called "the discovery of the century, if not of all time" by Stephen Hawking, Professor Smoot's uncovering of ripples in space dating from the early universe has for the first time given theorists hard data to use in determining the mechanism of the creation of the universe. These observations are "evidence for the birth of the universe", and Smoot said on the importance of his discovery that "If you're religious, it's like seeing God".

Professor Smoot continues research in cosmology and is involved in the Planck and SNAP missions. The Planck mission is the third generation mission to exploit the CMB fluctuations discovered by COBE DMR. SNAP is a mission to understand the Dark Energy causing the current expansion of the universe to accelerate.

George Smoot received Bachelor degrees in mathematics and physics in 1966 and a Ph.D. in Physics from MIT in 1970. He has been at the University of California Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory since 1970 and is the author of more than 200 science papers and of the popularized scientific book "Wrinkles in Time" that elucidates cosmology and the COBE discovery. A professor of physics at the University of California at Berkeley, his honors include the NASA Medal for Exceptional Science Achievement, the Kilby Award, the Lawrence Award and the Einstein Medal.


Monday, April 6, 2009:
14:30 Keynote speech and dialogue with former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad hosted by the Perdana Leadership Foundation at the Auditorium of Putrajaya Corporation
Information and free seat reservation:
phone (03) 8885-8953, 8885-8960, fax (03) 8889-1166, email,

Tuesday, April 7, 2009:
14:30 Keynote speech and dialogue at the Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP)
Information and free seat reservation:
phone (05) 368-8000, fax (05) 365-4075, email

Wednesday, April 8, 2009:
14:30 Keynote speech and dialogue at the Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN) in Kajang
Information and free seat reservation:
phone (03) 8928-7104, 8928-7105, fax (03) 8921-2119, email

Thursday, April 9, 2009:
14:30 Dialogue with researchers hosted by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) at the National Space Agency
Information and free seat reservation:
phone (03) 2694-9898, fax (03) 2694-5858, email,