Alpher Plaque Dedicated in Olin Building

Union dedicated a bronze plaque this week in honor of Ralph Asher Alpher, a distinguished research professor of physics and astronomy and a pioneering architect of the Big Bang model for the origin of the universe. Alpher died Aug. 12, 2007 at age 86.

[…]Alpher taught at Union from 1986 to 2004 and was director of the Dudley Observatory. He also spent more than 30 years at the GE Research and Development Center in Niskayuna.

In 1948, as a young doctoral student, he wrote the first mathematical model for the creation of the universe and predicted the discovery of cosmic background radiation that proves the Big Bang theory.

Hundreds of people showed up at George Washington University for his dissertation defense, but the work of Alpher and his colleagues went largely unrecognized. In 1965, two radio astronomers in New Jersey who were tuning their equipment stumbled on proof of Alpher’s background radiation and were eventually awarded the Nobel Prize.

While the Nobel Prize eluded Alpher, he collected a host of other prestigious awards and honors, including the National Medal of Science, which is administered by the National Science Foundation and is the highest honor for science.

Read the full story in the Union College Chronicle.