Born: 26 April 1933, Munich, Germany
Affiliation at the time of the award: Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, NJ, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discovery of cosmic microwavebackground radiation"
born 26 April 1933) is an American physicist and Nobel laureate in physics.
Penzias was born in Munich, Germany. At age six he was among the Jewish childrenevacuated to Britain as part of the Kindertransport rescue operation. Six months later his parents also fled Nazi Germany for the U.S., and the family settled in the Garment District of New York City in1940. In 1946, Penzias became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1951 and received a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York in1954. From Columbia University, he received his Master's degree in 1958 and his Ph.D. in 1962.
He went on to work at Bell Labs in Holmdel, New Jersey where, with Robert Woodrow Wilson, he worked onultra-sensitive cryogenic microwave receiver, intended for radio astronomy observations. In 1964, on building their most sensitive antenna/receiver system, the pair encountered radio noise which theycould not explain. It was far less energetic than the radiation given off by the Milky Way, and it was isotropic, so they assumed their instrument was subject to interference by terrestrial sources.They tried, and then rejected, the hypothesis that the radio noise emanated from New York City. An examination of the microwave horn antenna showed it was full of pigeon droppings. After the pairremoved the guano buildup, and the pigeons were shot (each physicist says the other ordered the deed), the noise remained. Having rejected all sources of interference, the pair published a paper announcingtheir findings. This was later identified by Robert Dicke  as the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB), the radio remnant of the Big Bang. This allowed astronomers to confirm the Big...