John C. Mather

American astrophysicist and cosmologist

Professor John Cromwell Mather (born 7 August 1946 in Roanoke, Virginia) is an American astrophysicist and cosmologist. He was given the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006 for his work on cosmic microwave background radiation and COBE satellite with George Smoot. The COBE satellite measures black holes and cosmic radiation.

John C. Mather
Born (1946-08-07) August 7, 1946 (age 77)
Alma materSwarthmore College
University of California, Berkeley
Known forCosmic microwave background radiation
Awards Nobel Prize in Physics (2006)
Scientific career
FieldsAstrophysics, cosmology

This work supported the big-bang theory of the universe beginning. It made cosmology much more accurate. The Nobel Prize committee said: "the COBE-project can also be regarded as the starting point for cosmology as a precision science."[1]

Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. He is a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, College Park. In 2007, Mather was listed in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World.

Education and early work

Picture of cosmic radiation taken by COBE

Work with COBE


After being awarded his Ph.D. Professor Mather went to work at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University. He started the work on COBE there (1974-1976). More than 1,000 researchers, engineers and other workers made the COBE satellite. John Mather was in control of them all and created the technology for measuring the cosmic radiation. George Smoot had the job of measuring small changes in the temperature of the radiation.[1]

Professor Mather and John Boslough wrote all about the COBE teams work in a book called The Very First Light.[2]




  1. 1.0 1.1 "The Nobel Prize in Physics 2006" (.PDF) (Press release). The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. 3 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-05.
  2. Mather, John; Boslough, John (1997). The Very First Light: The True Inside Story of the Scientific Journey Back to the Dawn of the Universe. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0465015751.

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