Josep Maria Guilemany, professor of Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Barcelona (UB) and full academician of the Royal European Academy of Doctors-Barcelona 1914 (RAED), participated on May 20 in the investiture as doctor honoris causa of this same university of Saul Perlmutter, Nobel prize in Physics in 2011. The sponsors of the recipient were Ramon Canal, from the Department of Quantum Physics and Astrophysics of the UB, and Pilar Ruiz Lapuente, from the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the UB and member of the project Supernova Cosmology, one of the two teams that contributed to the study that was worth the recognition of the Swedish Academy to Perlmutter.
Professor at the University of California-Berkeley, where he directs the Berkeley Institute for Data Science and the Berkeley Center for Cosmology, Perlmutter won the Nobel prize for his demonstration that the universe is expanding rapidly. An unexpected finding that supposed another discovery: the one of a dark energy unknown until the moment and that conforms the three quarters of the matter of the universe. In Barcelona, during the ceremony of investiture, Perlmutter delved into these discoveries with the conference “What we learn when we learn that the universe is accelerating”, a journey over what has been the progress experienced from the understanding of this dark energy and the expansion of the cosmos.
Perlmutter has also been the driving force behind a project to study dark energy by analyzing the brightness of very distant supernovae. For this, he led a proposal to build and launch a telescope using a satellite. Finally, NASA has approved the Broad Field Infrared Sounding Telescope (WFIRST), the latest version of this project, which also includes the study of exoplanets and other cosmological issues, and which is currently in the preliminary design stage.
The University of Barcelona is one of the three European institutions, together with the University of Cambridge and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which appears in the article on Perlmutter’s research, published in the renowned scientific journal “Astrophysical Journal”. One of the signatories of the study was UB researcher Pilar Ruiz Lapuente, who joined the Supernova Cosmology project, led by the Nobel himself, to lead the observations made from the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (La Palma, Canary Islands). The UB actively joined this international scientific project.