pigeon droppings

Robert Woodrow Wilson


Robert Woodrow Wilson (born January 10, 1936) is an American astronomer, 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 Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa for unrelated work.

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

Wilson graduated from Lamar High School in Houston and studied as an undergraduate at Rice University, where he was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa society. His graduate work was done at California Institute of Technology.

Wilson and Penzias won the Henry Draper Medal in 1977.


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