Tag: adam riess

Our Favorite Baltimore Genius Just Keeps Winning Awards


adam riess

I imagine it’s a pretty amazing feeling to win a Nobel prize. But then where do you go from there? Well, if you’re Johns Hopkins physicist Adam Riess, Baltimore Fishbowl’s official physics crush, you just keep raking in the awards.

This Week in Research: Hopkins Astrophysics Team Find the Oldest, Farthest Supernova

According to JHU, "the small box pinpoints SN Wilson's host galaxy."
According to JHU, “the small box pinpoints SN Wilson’s host galaxy.”

I am into everything about this discovery of a 10 billion year-old supernova discovered by Johns Hopkins scientists using the Hubble Telescope — the oldest and farthest cosmic explosion ever sighted — except its name.

This Week in Research: The Oldest Supernova; Obama’s Management Issues


The fun thing about astrophysicists is that they don’t only look 4 billion years into the future to see how our galaxy will get smashed up; they also like to look backward — 9 billion years ago, in this case — to see how it was formed in the first place.

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, a team of Hopkins researchers led by Steven Rodney (and his co-investigator, our fave Adam Riess), found an incredibly distant stellar explosion. That supernova, which they nicknamed SN Primo, is the last remnant of a white dwarf star that exploded 9 billion years ago. Now consider this:  the cosmos itself is only 13.7 billion years old. By spectroscopic observations of SN Primo, the researchers hope to measure the expansion rate of the universe and to better understand dark energy, that mysterious force that’s making the universe accelerate in its expansion.

There’s A New Top Astrophysicist in Town, Baltimore

Professor Charles Bennett and members of his research team.

Don’t worry, Adam Riess — we still think you’re the dreamiest astrophysicist (and Nobel laureate) in town. But what prestigious prizes have you brought home this week? None! And so, while you’re slacking off at Ocean City or Monaco or wherever brilliant people spend their summers, we’ll turn our attention to another Baltimore smart guy:  Johns Hopkins professor Charles L. Bennett.

This week Bennett was awarded the Gruber Foundation’s annual cosmology prize for his research with NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, which scanned space looking for microwave radiation. Their findings have “formed the foundation for what scientists know about the makeup, origins and expansion of the universe,” according to the Baltimore Sun. Which sounds…. pretty important.

Some of their findings:  substantiating the Big Bang Theory (more or less), discovering that atoms make up less than 5 percent of the universe, giving the best (to-date) estimate for the age of the universe, and finding that the universe’s first stars formed when it was about 400 million years old. Basically, this team came up with a model for the universe’s birth and expansion that has become standard.

If you’re feeling sorry for Adam Riess, don’t be — his team won the prize back in 2007. Does that mean Bennett might be looking at a Nobel in the near future? We don’t see why not — and neither does Riess:  “Chuck Bennett and the WMAP team put the ‘precision’ in the new field of precision cosmology, and set the ‘standard’ for the Standard Cosmological Model,” he said in a press release.

Where to Watch the Transit of Venus in Baltimore


Before they drew their famous boundary line between the north and south, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon were charged with observing the 1761 Transit of Venus to get measurements to help determine the distance from the earth to the sun… but they were way-laid by a French man-of-war and never made it to their intended observational site. Which was too bad, since the Transit of Venus is an exceedingly rare astronomical event — it won’t happen again until 2125.  So get your telescopes and special glasses ready, Baltimore, because today marks the last chance in your lifetime that you’ll be able to see Venus move across the sun, and we happen to be in prime viewing area.

If you don’t happen to have your own astronomical observation tools, we’ve found a few spots where you can watch the transit in the company of experts and amateur enthusiasts:

Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Campus:  This one has the most proper nouns. Join the Astrobiology Forum and Maryland Space Grant Observatory at the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy for an evening of Venus-themed events. Our favorite local heartthrob/Nobel prize winner Adam Riess will join other Hopkinites to talk about the importance of transits like this one. There will also be many options for viewing:  personal telescopes, paper projections, and a live feed from Hawaii.

Adam Riess Nobel Prize Photos (Featuring an Actual King!)


Our favorite local Nobel Prize winner, Johns Hopkins astrophysicist Adam Riess,  traveled to Stockholm to pick up his medal and diploma last weekend.  He got to wear a tuxedo and shake hands with the king of Sweden — excuse me, His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, king of Sweden in these great photos taken by his sister, Dr. Gail Saltz. 

Have you ever seen an actual Nobel Prize?  It looks a little like a New Age sympathy card, but with gorgeous calligraphy.  More photos here; watch Riess’s Nobel lecture here.



The Webb Space Telescope is in Baltimore, Making the Hubble Weep With Shame


Some facts:

  • The James Webb Space Telescope will be launched into space.
  • The James Webb Space Telescope will make the Hubble Telescope feel puny and washed-up and fundamentally inadequate.
  • The James Webb Space Telescope will be the largest space telescope ever built.
  • The James Webb Space Telescope is on a deep-space mission. And that deep-space mission involves “look[ing] back in time more than 13 billion years to help us understand the formation of galaxies, stars and planets.”
  • The James Webb Space telescope is currently in construction, but you can see a life-size model at the Maryland Science Center through October 26. Experts will be standing around, happy to answer all your deep-space questions. For free!


Adam Riess Crush-O-Meter


Listen to the Nobel-winning/MacArthur Genius/funny guy Adam Riess on this weekend’s episode of NPR’s Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me and just try to convince us he’s not the dreamiest.


That is all.