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Studies of universe's expansion win physics Nobel

By Louise Nordstrom

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 4 2011 5:55 a.m. MDT

The research implies that billions of years from now, the universe will become "a very, very large, but very cold and lonely place," said Charles Blue, spokesman for the American Institute of Physics.

In contrast to the big bang, that fate has been called the "big rip" to indicate how galaxies would be torn apart, he said. Galaxies will be flying away so quickly that their light could not travel across the universe to distant observers as it does today, making the sky appear black, he said.

The Nobel committee's comment that the universe would "end in ice" is "an eloquent way of putting it," Blue said.

The physics prize was the second Nobel to be announced this year. On Monday the medicine prize went to American Bruce Beutler and French scientist Jules Hoffmann who shared it with Canadian-born Ralph Steinman for their discoveries about the immune system. Steinman died three days before the announcement, but since his death was not known to the committee, they decided he should keep the Nobel. Since 1974, Nobels have been awarded only to living scientists.

The prestigious Nobel Prizes were established in the will of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, and have been handed out since 1901.

Last year's physics award went to Russian-born scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for groundbreaking experiments with graphene, the strongest and thinnest material known to mankind.

The prizes are handed out every year on Dec. 10, on the anniversary of Nobel's death in 1896.

Malin Rising in Stockholm, Malcolm Ritter in New York, Kristen Gelineau in Sydney and Greg Moore in Phoenix, Arizona, contributed.

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