Phillip James E. Peebles Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Science

Predicted and measured the cosmic background radiation from the big bang, as well as predicting the existence of dark matter and dark energy in the universe.

"One thing that’s pretty constant in science is that you never know what’s going to happen next."

The Story

Peebles received his BSc at the University of Manitoba (1958) and his PhD from Princeton University, New Jersey (1962). He is considered by some to be the single most important cosmologist of the last 30 years. With Robert Dicke and others he predicted the existence of the cosmic background radiation and planned to seek it just before it was found by A. Penzias and R. Wilson. He has investigated characteristics of the radiation, clustering and superclustering of galaxies. He has calculated the universal abundances of helium and other light elements, demonstrating agreement between big bang theory and observation. He has provided evidence of the existence of large quantities of dark matter in the haloes of galaxies. His two books on physical cosmology have had a significant impact in convincing physicists that the time has come to study cosmology as a respectable branch of physics. He is a recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the A.C. Morrison award, the Eddington Medal, the Heineman Prize and the 1995 C.W. Bruce medal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

Sources: Who’s Who in America 1994, personal communication, Bruce Medalist Website by Joseph Tenn, Sonoma State U., CA.

As A Young Scientist...

Peebles liked to take things apart and put them back together again. He remembers throwing a temper tantrum when he was not allowed to assemble a coffee perculator. 

Career ideas:

  • research scientist, physics
  • research scientist, electronics
  • research scientist, communications
  • research scientist, aerospace
  • research scientist, remote sensing
  • nuclear physicist
  • optics physicist
  • plasma physicist
  • solid state physicist
  • astrophysicist
  • cosmologist
  • experimental physicist

The Person

April 25, 1935
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Family Members
  • Spouse: Allison Peebles
  • Three children
Physicist; Cosmologist; Albert Einstein professor of science
Princeton University, NJ
  • BSc University of Manitoba 1958
  • PhD Princeton University 1962
  • Gruber Prize in Cosmology, 2000
  • ADION medal, France, 2004
  • Shaw Prize in Astronomy, Hong Kong, 2004
  • Nobel Prize in Physics, 2019
Ken Standing, University of Manitoba professor who insisted that he go to Princeton for a PhD Robert Dicke, Princeton, who encouraged him to pursue cosmology
Last Updated
October 9, 2019

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