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Robert Woodrow Wilson

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Title: Robert Woodrow Wilson  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Cosmic microwave background, Discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation, Holmdel Township, New Jersey, Physical cosmology, Nobel Prize in Physics
Collection: 1936 Births, American Astronomers, American Nobel Laureates, American Physicists, California Institute of Technology Alumni, Guggenheim Fellows, Lamar High School (Houston, Texas) Alumni, Living People, Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Sciences Laureates, Nobel Laureates in Physics, People from Holmdel Township, New Jersey, Radio Astronomers, Rice University Alumni, Scientists at Bell Labs
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Robert Woodrow Wilson

For the American president, see Woodrow Wilson.
Robert Woodrow Wilson (left) with Arno Allan Penzias
Born (1936-01-10) January 10, 1936
Houston, Texas, USA
Residence New Jersey
Nationality United States
Fields Physics
Alma mater

Rice University,

California Institute of Technology
Known for Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation
Notable awards Henry Draper Medal (1977)
Nobel Prize in Physics (1978)

Robert Woodrow Wilson (born January 10, 1936) is an American astronomer, 1978 Nobel laureate in physics, who with Arno Allan Penzias discovered in 1964 the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB). The award purse was also shared with a third scientist, Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa, for unrelated work.

While working on a new type of antenna at Bell Labs in Holmdel Township, New Jersey, they found a source of noise in the atmosphere that they could not explain.[1] After removing all potential sources of noise, including pigeon droppings on the antenna, the noise was finally identified as CMB, which served as important corroboration of the Big Bang theory.


  • Life and work 1
  • Notes 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Life and work

Robert Woodrow Wilson was born on January 10, 1936, in Houston, Texas. He graduated from Lamar High School in River Oaks, in Houston,[2] and studied as an undergraduate at Rice University, also in Houston, where he was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa society. His graduate work was done at California Institute of Technology.

Wilson and Penzias also won the Henry Draper Medal of the National Academy of Sciences in 1977.[3]

Wilson remained at Bell Laboratories until 1994, when he was named a senior scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he remains today.[4]

Wilson has been a resident of Holmdel Township, New Jersey.[5]


  1. ^ Penzias, A.A.; Wilson, R.W. (1965). "A Measurement of Excess Antenna Temperature at 4080 Mc/s".  
  2. ^ "Distinguished HISD Alumni," Houston Independent School District
  3. ^ "Henry Draper Medal". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 24 February 2011. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Nobel Lectures, Physics 1971-1980, Editor Stig Lundqvist, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1992. Autobiography. Accessed March 15, 2011. "We still live in the house in Holmdel which we bought when I first came to Bell Laboratories."


  • "Distinguished HISD Alumni", Houston Independent School District, Houston, Texas, 2008.
  • Cite Video | BBC/WGBH BOSTON | NOVA #519 | A Whisper From Space | Copyright 1978 | Available With Permission | Consolidated Aircraft - Ronkonkoma, New York

External links

  • Robert Woodrow Wilson: Official Nobel page
  • Annotated bibliography for Robert Wilson from the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues

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