Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist to present annual Coyne Lecture

October 13, 2017

Mather's research confirmed the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe

MILWAUKEE — Dr. John C. Mather, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics, will discuss the history of the universe at Marquette University on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 6 p.m. in the Tony and Lucille Weasler Auditorium, 1506 W. Wisconsin Ave.

Mather, a senior astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, won the Nobel Prize for his precise measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Using the COBE satellite, Mather was able to confirm the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe, showing that 99.97 percent of the radiant energy of the universe was released within the first year of the primeval explosion.

Since the results showed there was no significant energy releases after the first year, scientists were able to rule out several hypotheses on how large-scale structures, like galaxies, evolved out of homogeneous radiation from the Big Bang.

Mather also is a senior project scientist on the James Webb Space Telescope. Scheduled to be launched in Spring 2019 from French Guiana, it will be the premiere observatory of the next decade and will be used by thousands of astronomers worldwide. Leading the science team, he represents scientific interests within management of the project.

Mather's lecture is titled "The History of the Universe from the beginning to the end: where did we come from, where can we go?"

"Our history is full of beneficial catastrophes, and we wouldn't be here without them," Mather says. "Stars explode, the moon is formed in a giant collision with the Earth, the Earth is bombarded by asteroids and comets for hundreds of millions of years, and multiple extinction events through hot, cold, poison and asteroid impacts cause rapid evolution of life."

Media wishing to speak to Dr. Mather should contact Christopher Stolarski at (414) 288-6060 or at

About the Rev. George V. Coyne, S.J., Lecturer in Astronomy and Astrophysics

The annual lecture, hosted by the Marquette Physics Department, is named in honor of Rev. George V. Coyne, S.J., for his astronomical research and developments. Father Coyne gave the inaugural lecture in 2006, and was the lecturer again in 2014. As director of the Vatican Observatory, Coyne led a team of Jesuit astronomers in conducting cutting-edge astronomical research and in developing new telescopes and other instrumentation for studying the cosmos.