ⓘ Robert Woodrow Wilson


ⓘ Robert Woodrow Wilson

Robert Woodrow Wilson is an American astronomer who, along with Arno Allan Penzias, discovered cosmic microwave background radiation in 1964. The pair won the 1978 Nobel prize in physics for their discovery.

While doing tests and experiments with the Holmdel Horn Antenna at Bell Labs in Holmdel Township, New Jersey, Wilson and Penzias discovered 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 corroboration of the Big Bang theory.


1. Life and work

Robert Woodrow Wilson was born on January 10, 1936, in Houston, Texas. He graduated from Lamar High School in River Oaks, in Houston, and studied as an undergraduate at Rice University, also in Houston, where he was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa society. He then earned a PhD in physics at California Institute of Technology.

Wilson and Penzias also won the Henry Draper Medal of the National Academy of Sciences in 1977.

Wilson remained at Bell Laboratories until 1994, when he was named a senior scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Wilson has been a resident of Holmdel Township, New Jersey.

Wilson married Elizabeth Rhoads Sawin in 1958.

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