models (such as various inflationary scenarios). Consequently, astronomers began planning in earnest for a more detailed probe.

Meanwhile, other researchers at LBL and elsewhere pursued a wholly different way of investigating the early universe. Their investigations of distant supernovas would soon jolt the field of cosmology.


Saul Perlmutter, leader of the Supernova Cosmology Project, grew up in a family of respected academicians. His father, Daniel, was a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, and his mother, Felice, was a professor of social administration at Temple University. Nurtured in a supportive, intellectual household, his interests turned to science at an early age. As a child, recalled Perlmutter, “I always enjoyed looking at the sky, but I was never one of those people who had their own backyard telescope. It was only because I started needing telescopes to answer the fundamental questions that I started learning much about astronomy.”

In addition to his scientific talents, Perlmutter became adept at music—corroborating popular theories that the two abilities go hand in hand. He’s an avid violinist and enjoys playing in orchestras. Blending his talents with others—whether harmonizing in music or collaborating in science—has become an important part of his personal philosophy. “I was somebody who had fewer individual heroes and more collective heroes,” he stated. “The idea that people working together could understand the world and that no single one of them by themselves could understand the world, that really captured my imagination.”

After receiving a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1986, he was appointed to a position at LBL. Along with an international team of astronomers, including Berkeley astronomers Carl Pennypacker and Gerson Goldhaber, he set out to measure the overall dynamics of the universe and the change in its expansion rate over time. This measurement would provide a way of delving into

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