What’s Our Place in the Universe?

Sally Laurent-Muehleisen, associate chair and senior lecturer of Illinois Tech’s Department of Physics, continues the College of Science’s departmental colloquia overviewing this year’s Nobel-winning works at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019 at Robert A. Pritzker Science Center 111.

Staring up at the night sky one cannot help but ask two questions: “how did it all begin?” and “are we alone”? This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Dr. James Pebbles, Dr. Michel Mayor, and Dr. Didier Queloz who have all spent their careers trying to find answers to these fundamental questions. Dr. Peebles is rightly considered to be the father of Physical Cosmology, the field of astrophysics which endeavors to investigate the origin, current state, and evolution of the universe by combining theory, observation, and detailed modeling. Drs. Mayor and Didier were the first astrophyscists to discover planets orbiting a star much like our own and their work has helped launch the new field of exoplanet research. In this colloquium, I will present an overview of the work for which these astrophysicists were jointly awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics. Their work will be presented in the context of how it has revolutionized these apparently disparate fields and have moved us closer to answering those fundamental questions we all have undoubtedly pondered.