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The 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics Should Have Been Russian
October 16, 2006 16:32

Russian think-tank was the first to discover thermal anisotropy of background radiation.

The discovery of the think-tank from the Institute of Space Research headed by Igor Strukov is based upon results obtained from the “Relict” experiment performed in 1983-1984 – six years before the Americans have performed their COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) experiment. The 2006 Nobel Prize in physics went to Dr. John Mather (right), JWST Senior Project Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and Dr. George F. Smoot (left), UC Berkeley, "for their discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation". Russian research fellow Dmitry Skulachev from the Institute of Space Research gives his comments on the situation.

Dmitry Skulachev admits that American scientists have planned and performed an enormous piece of scientific research and the Nobel Prize is a deserved recognition of their experiment. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center scientists have developed the COBE satellite to measure the diffuse infrared and microwave radiation from the early universe to the limits set by our astrophysical environment. It was launched November 18, 1989 and carried three instruments, a Diffuse Infrared Background Experiment (DIRBE) to search for the cosmic infrared background radiation, a Differential Microwave Radiometer (DMR) to map the cosmic radiation sensitively, and a Far Infrared Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) to compare the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation with a precise blackbody. Four years of space monitoring allowed the satellite to collect a huge amount of unique data resulting in several major discoveries. Infrared absolute sky brightness maps in the wavelength range 1.25 to 240 microns were obtained to carry out a search for the cosmic infrared background (CIB). The CIB was originally detected in the two longest DIRBE wavelength bands, 140 and 240 microns, and in the short-wavelength end of the FIRAS spectrum. Subsequent analyses have yielded detections of the CIB in the near-infrared DIRBE sky maps. The CIB represents a "core sample" of the Universe; it contains the cumulative emissions of stars and galaxies dating back to the epoch when these objects first began to form. The COBE CIB measurements constrain models of the cosmological history of star formation and the buildup over time of dust and elements heavier than hydrogen, including those of which living organisms are composed. Dust has played an important role in star formation throughout much of cosmic history. The cosmic microwave background was found to have intrinsic "anisotropy", at a level of a part in 100,000. These tiny variations in the intensity of the CIB over the sky show how matter and energy was distributed when the Universe was still very young. Later, through a process still poorly understood, the early structures seen by DMR developed into galaxies, galaxy clusters, and the large scale structure that we see in the Universe today. The cosmic microwave background (CMB) spectrum is that of a nearly perfect blackbody with a temperature of 2.725 +/- 0.002 K. This observation matches the predictions of the hot Big Bang theory extraordinarily well, and indicates that nearly all of the radiant energy of the Universe was released within the first year after the Big Bang. But the data of the COBE satellite were published late due to the wrong orbit and some receivers’ components.

Russian “Relict” experiment included the radiometer, developed by Igor Strukov’s research group in the Institute for Space Research (ISR) and installed on the board of the “Prognoz-9” satellite. The “Prognoz-9”’s orbit fitted measurement requirements much better than COBE’s orbit did. Primary results of data procession (dated 1985-1987) allowed most accurate calculations of the dipole component of the thermal anisotropy and estimations of the strictest limitations of possible anisotropy values higher harmonics. “Relict’s” scientific results were published in domestic and international scientific journals and reported at international conferences, while COBE’s science group kept silent for over two years after the satellite’s launch, creating the impression they failed to detect anisotropy.

In 1989-1990 ISR tried to process the “Relict”’s old data more thoroughly – the result was 90% detection of anisotropy’s higher harmonics. After verification final results were reported at the All-Moscow astronomy seminar in January 1992, and sent to the “Pis'ma v Astronomicheskii Zhurnal” (Soviet Astronomy Letters) and “Monthly Notice of Royal Astronomical Society” the following month. Work’s preprints were sent to leading cosmologists, including the COBE group, which still showed no signs of their scientific results. Long time correspondence led to the delay of Russian papers publication. COBE’s results were published in the “Astrophysical Journal” a little bit earlier than English translation of new “Relict” data, however journal editors have indicated the dates of paper submission, which show “Relict’s” priority.

Thus, Dmitry Skulachev thinks that the fact of anisotropy’s higher harmonics existence was for the first time discovered by the “Relict” experiment, and then followed its brilliant confirmation by the COBE experiment. WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Problem) satellite launched in 2001, has also confirmed and revised the data of “Relict” and COBE. The fair Nobel Prize should have been awarded to the three scientists: Dr. John Mather for the discovery of the blackbody form of the cosmic microwave background radiation, Dr. George F. Smoot for detecting anisotropy spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation, and Dr. Igor Strukov for the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation in his “Relict” experiment.


Anna Kizilova


Tags: Russian Scientists     

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