Peter Arno

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PENZIAS, ARNO ALLAN

PENZIAS, ARNO ALLAN (1933– ), U.S. physicist, Nobel Prize laureate. Born in Munich, Penzias left Germany in 1939, when he and his younger brother were placed on the Kinder-transport by his parents, who were able to obtain visas to the United States. The family reunited in England and left for America shortly thereafter. Penzias attended New York City public schools, and received his doctorate in physics from Columbia University. Most of his professional career (1961–95) was spent at the Bell Telephone Laboratories. He performed research in radio astronomy and telecommunications and became vice president of its world famous research organization. As a scientist he is best known for his 1965 discovery, with Robert W. Wilson, of "background" radiation from the far reaches of space, supporting the "Big Bang" theory of the creation of the universe, work for which he and Wilson shared the 1978 Nobel Prize in physics. The author of two books on the societal impact of information technology, Penzias made significant contributions to our understanding of the chemistry of interstellar space, especially the complex molecules thought to underlie the origin of life. Subsequently moving to California, he advised and encouraged new hi-tech companies.

[Bracher Rager (2nd ed.)]

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Penzias, Arno Allan (1933– ) US astrophysicist, b. Germany. Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered the cosmic background radiation emanating from outer space. They detected a non-varying radio signal that is considered to be thermal energy left over from the Big Bang. Penzias and Wilson shared the 1978 Nobel Prize in physics with Peter Kapitza.

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