Headlines at Hopkins: news releases from across
university Headlines
News by Topic: news releases organized by
subject News by Topic
News by School: news releases organized by the 
university's 9 schools & divisions News by School
Events Open to the Public (campus-wide) Events Open
to the Public
Blue Jay Sports: Hopkins Athletic Center Blue Jay Sports
Search News Site Search the Site

Contacting the News Staff: directory of
press officers Contacting
News Staff
Receive News Via Email (listservs) Receive News
Via Email
Resources for Journalists Resources for Journalists

Virtually Live@Hopkins: audio and video news Virtually
Hopkins in the News: news clips about Hopkins Hopkins in
the News

Faculty Experts: searchable resource organized by 
topic Faculty Experts
Faculty and Administrator Photos Faculty and
Faculty with Homepages Faculty with Homepages

JHUNIVERSE Homepage JHUniverse Homepage
Headlines at Hopkins
News Release

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

January 27, 2005
CONTACT: Lisa De Nike
(443) 287-9906

Johns Hopkins Astrophysicist Wins
Quadrennial Draper Medal

NAS recognizes Bennett's work analyzing age,
composition and curvature of universe

Charles L. Bennett, a professor in the Henry A. Rowland Department of Physics and Astronomy at The Johns Hopkins University, will be awarded the prestigious Henry Draper Medal on May 2 at the National Academy of Science's 142nd annual meeting.

The academy awards the Draper Medal every four years to scientists and individuals who have made significant contributions to astronomical physics. The prize was established in 1886 by the wife of Henry Draper, a prominent amateur scientist and early pioneer of astronomical photography.

Charles L. Bennett

The NAS cited Bennett for his work with the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), a NASA Explorer mission that is working to precisely determine the age, composition and curvature of the universe.

WMAP measures the temperature of cosmic background radiation, the oldest light in the universe and a remnant of the Big Bang. Using the WMAP satellite, Bennett's team has taken the universe's first-ever, detailed, full-sky "baby picture" in microwave light from 379,000 years after the Big Bang. The microwave light mapped by WMAP has traveled across the universe for more than 13 billion years and now provides us with a direct picture of what the universe was like then.

"It's as if a photo of a 13-month old baby was mailed to a relative and got delayed in delivery. Decades later, the relative receives the picture of the now-80-year-old relation!" Bennett explains. "Using WMAP, we see what our universe looked like in its infancy, and using instruments such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Hubble Space Telescope, we see how our universe evolved more recently. Combining all that information has revealed the 13.7 billion year age of the universe, and has clearly established that the universe is dominated by a mysterious dark matter and an even more mysterious dark energy. That dark energy is causing the universe to stretch at ever- increasing rates. Determining the nature of that energy is the pre-eminent problem in physics."

Bennett came to Johns Hopkins on January 1, 2005, from his position as a senior scientist for experimental cosmology at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, where the WMAP was built in partnership with Princeton University. He is the third Johns Hopkins scientist to win the Draper Medal. Henry A. Rowland, Johns Hopkins' first physics professor, received the award in 1890 and Robert W. Wood, who was professor of experimental physics at Johns Hopkins, won in 1940.

"It's a great honor to receive the Henry Draper Medal from the National Academy of Sciences. I take it as recognition of my teachers and mentors, my wonderful scientific colleagues, and the loving support of my family," Bennett said.

Bennett's research has been funded by NASA.

Color photos of Bennett are available upon request. Contact Lisa De Nike.

Johns Hopkins University news releases can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.jhu.edu/news_info/news/
   Information on automatic e-mail delivery of science and medical news releases is available at the same address.

Go to Headlines@HopkinsHome Page