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A letter from an alum about Big Bang theory

May 13, 2003

Your article, "Big Days for the Big Bang", is most interesting (feature, May 14). I should like to throw some additional light on part of the article.

Professor Bob Dicke went to Bell Labs the day the remains of the Big Bang were found. I saw Bob the instant he returned to Princeton, as he was getting out of his car after parking it. He told me that he had just returned from Bell Labs. He found two communications engineers who had built a horn for communication purposes. They had in it a noise that they could not get rid of. They had no idea of what it was. Bob asked to look at it. They agreed. He did, and turned around and told them the "noise" was the remains of the Big Bang.

Bob was building, with Dave Wilkinson, equipment to hunt for the same thing, when this happened. The two men, who did not know what they had, got the Nobel Prize. Bob Dicke, who discovered the remains of the Big Bang, but on their equipment, not his own, did not get the Nobel Prize. This, to me, is a great injustice.

Robert Alonzo Winters ’35
Hightstwon, N.J.

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April 1, 2003

It was a pleasure to read of Princeton's role in mapping the cosmos in your article "Big bang in the bag" (Notebook, March 12). I have one slight correction. The article speaks of "the speed of which a galaxy expands". The universe is expanding, but individual galaxies aren't! The speed in question is really that at which the galaxy is moving away from us.

John Baez '82
Department of Mathematics
University of California
Riverside, Calif.

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March 12, 2003

I have always had great respect and admiration for Princeton professors, but I had no idea they could accomplish what is reported in the PAW of March 12. Imagine the university’s scientists being the first ones to travel a million miles into space!

I refer to the second sentence of your article on the "Big Bang in the bag," which reads: "In June 2001, NASA launched a satellite that was built with input from Princeton scientists one million miles into space..."

On second thought, instead of praising the scientists, perhaps we should call upon Princeton's Department of English for some basic instruction in language syntax.

Jeremy T. Medina ’64
Clinton, N.Y.

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