I have the honour to present Dr. P. James E. Peebles, an outstanding graduate of our Faculty of Science, a cosmologist of international repute, and the Albert Einstein Professor of Science at Princeton University.
Dr. Peebles was born in Winnipeg fifty-four years ago, and he graduated from Glenlawn Collegiate in l953, showing early promise by being chosen the class valedictorian. He studied honours physics here at The University of Manitoba, attaining his B.Sc. degree in 1958. He then left Manitoba for Princeton University which evidently agreed with him, since he has remained there to this day. He earned his doctoral degree from Princeton in 1962and was taken on the staff of the Department of Physics. A rapid rise through the ranks followed, and in 1972 Dr. Peebles was made professor. In 1984 the Department gave him the title Albert Einstein Professor of Science which he now holds, clear evidence of the esteem in which he is held by Princeton and other physicists.
Dr. Peebles is world-famous for his research in cosmology. Cosmologists are among the most intrepid of scientists, speculating, as they do, about the course of events in the first second after the big bang, thought to have been the initial event in our universe's history; about the evolution of galaxies of hundreds of billions of stars; about the distribution of galaxies in space; and about the future of the universe,and its possible end. As you know Mr. Chancellor, this isa heady and adventurous quest. It is the stuff of which dreams are made, and it has captured the imagination of both scientists and the public.
Dr. Peeble's contributions to our evolving knowledge of the universe are many, and I will mention only two. He first achieved fame by predicting, with a colleague, that evidence for the big bang - that phenomenal occurrence of fifteen billion years ago - should still be observable, in the form of cosmic microwave radiation. It detracts not at all from the importance of the prediction that the radiation had already been observed, but not understood, by scientists from the Bell Laboratories not far from Princeton. Bell Labs had the observations but Princeton had the explanation for them.
The second achievement I want to mention is Dr. Peebles's major life work on the clustering of galaxies in space. He has learned how to extract information on clustering from catalogues of galaxy positions, and he has shown how to use this information to test theories of galactic formation. He has described this pioneering work in his magnum opus, a book called The Large-Scale Structure of the Universe. It has become a bible to his fellow cosmologists who are trying to unravel these important galactic mysteries.
Dr. James Peebles has received many awards to recognize his great achievements. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and the Royal Society of Canada. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. He has been awarded the Eddington Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Heineman Prize of the American Astronomical Society, and has also received honorary doctorates from our sister universities at Chicago and Toronto.
Mr. Chancellor, we take great pride in the career of one of the most distinguished graduates our Faculty of Science has produced. It is a great pleasure to ask, in the name of the Senate of The University of Manitoba, that you now confer on James Peebles, the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.
-citation delivered by Arnold Naimark, President, University of Manitoba