UC Berkeley physics professor Saul Perlmutter was a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in physics today for his work explaining how the universe is expanding. Perlmutter led Lawrence Berkeley Lab’s Supernova Cosmology Project, which made the discovery in 1998. He will receive half of the $1.4 million prize with two other scientists working in the same field getting the other half.

As described by producer Gabriela Quiros, this 2008 segment from KQED QUEST profiles Perlmutter and his team as they search for supernovae stars using a giant telescope in Hawaii. By figuring out how long ago these stars exploded, the scientists are building a history of the expansion of the universe. It was this history that led Perlmutter and another rival team in 1998 to conclude that the universe not only is expanding, it’s doing so at a faster and faster rate.

Perhaps even more valuable than the Nobel Prize: The free parking that Cal grants its Nobel winners.


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor