Penzias, Arno (Allan)

Penzias, Arno (Allan)

biographical name

(born April 26, 1933, Munich, Ger.) German-born U.S. astrophysicist. His family fled Nazi Germany, and he received his Ph.D. from Columbia University, after which he joined Bell Telephone Laboratories, where he worked with Robert W. Wilson monitoring radio emissions from a ring of gas around the Milky Way Galaxy. The two detected an unexpected uniform background static that suggested a thermal energy throughout the universe at a temperature of about 454 °F (269 °C), which most scientists now agree is residual cosmic background radiation stemming from the big bang explosion billions of years ago, from which the universe was created. They shared a 1978 Nobel Prize with Pyotr Kapitsa (1894–1984) for their work. In 1981 Penzias became a vice president at Bell Laboratories, retiring in 1998.

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