Saul Perlmutter

Saul Perlmutter

Franklin W. and Karen Weber Dabby Professor of Physics
Dept of Physics
(510) 642-3596
Research Expertise and Interest
cosmology, dark energy, physics, astrophysics experiments, observational astrophysics, supernovae, accelerating universe
Research Description

Saul Perlmutter is a 2011 Nobel Laureate, sharing the prize in Physics for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe.   He is a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he holds the Franklin W. and Karen Weber Dabby Chair, and a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  He is the leader of the international Supernova Cosmology Project, and director of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science and executive director of the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics. His undergraduate degree was from Harvard and his PhD from UC Berkeley.  In addition to other awards and honors, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Perlmutter has also written popular articles, and has appeared in numerous PBS, Discovery Channel, and BBC documentaries.  His interest in teaching  scientific-style critical thinking for scientists and non-scientists alike led to Berkeley courses on Sense and Sensibility and Science and Physics & Music.

In the News

February 18, 2016

Saul Perlmutter to lead WFIRST dark energy team

Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley Scientists to participate in new NASA space telescope project that will explore mysteries of dark energy, hunt for distant planets and retrace universe's history during 6-year mission.

December 13, 2013

Big turnout for launch of big-data center

A throng turned out for Thursday’s high-spirited launch of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science. Designed to help researchers across the disciplines harness data in order to spur discoveries and create knowledge, the center for data-related teaching and collaboration will be housed in Doe Library.

November 13, 2013

New data science institute to help scholars harness ‘big data’

In a world awash in data, UC Berkeley is meeting the flood head-on by establishing a new institute to support faculty, researchers and students in their efforts to mine this information in areas as diverse as astronomy and economics, genetics and demography.

January 9, 2013

The Farthest Supernova Yet for Measuring Cosmic History

The Supernova Cosmology Project, based at Berkeley Lab and headed by UC Berkeley physicist and Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter, has discovered the most distant supernova yet that can be used in cosmological studies. Announced at the American Astronomical Society meeting, it will help answer questions about dark energy and the fate of the universe.

December 4, 2012

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Gives a Big Boost to BigBOSS

A $2.1 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to the University of California at Berkeley, through the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics (BCCP), will fund the development of revolutionary technologies for BigBOSS, a project now in the proposal stage designed to study dark energy with unprecedented precision.

October 25, 2012

Sather Center targets transatlantic research

With several of its namesake’s descendants on hand for the occasion, UC Berkeley’s Peder Sather Center for Advanced Study is celebrating its launch today (Thursday) with a two-day campus conference.

December 15, 2011

Closing in on cosmic mystery surrounding supernovas

Thanks to images obtained over the past nine years by the Hubble Space Telescope, UC Berkeley astronomers were able to narrow down the identity of the companion star to a supernova first observed in August. It was not a bright red giant or helium star, but probably a more modest star like the sun, a subgiant or even a white dwarf.

November 2, 2011

Perlmutter, Filippenko in NOVA special

Newly minted Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter is among the physicists and astronomers interviewed in the premier episode of a four-part NOVA series, “The Fabric of the Cosmos,” which aired November 2, 2011 on PBS stations around the country. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the one-hour episode was viewed on KQED-TV at 9 p.m.

October 4, 2011

For Berkeley physicist, worldwide fame and campus parking

For Berkeley physicist Saul Perlmutter, Tuesday, Oct. 4 began before 3 a.m. with a press call from Sweden, and soon a meaningful moment with his sleepy but excited 8-year-old. Then — quickly and inevitably — came the deluge of phone calls and e-mails, celebratory events and photo ops. And, it goes without saying, a coveted parking pass.

October 4, 2011

Saul Perlmutter awarded 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics

Saul Perlmutter, UC Berkeley professor of physics and LBNL senior scientist, will share the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics with two other scientists, including former UC Berkeley postdoc Adam Riess, for their discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. This discovery in 1998 led to the realization that the universe is largely composed of an enigmatic “dark energy.”

February 19, 2011

Saul Perlmutter Wins the Einstein Medal

Berkeley Lab’s Saul Perlmutter has won the Einstein Medal presented annually by the Albert Einstein Society of Bern, Switzerland, for his role in discovering the accelerating expansion of the universe by observing very distant supernovae.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.
March 8, 2019
Stephen J. Dubner
In his Nobel Prize-winning work confirming that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, just as Einstein theorized, physics professor Saul Perlmutter was conducting experiments that were challenging, to say the least. And he had to persevere through years of failure. He talks about that process and what sustained him through it in this interview for Freakonomics Radio's "How to Be Creative" series. "One thing that's really interesting that it's important for people to hear sometimes is that a really tough, challenging problem is worth spending a lot of time on, and that you can be learning a lot while you're trying to get there," he says. At another point in the interview, he talks about the rivalry between teams working on the same problem. "It was highly secretive between each other in general. I'd say the competition with each other was a big deal but it's nothing like the competition with the ways in which the universe is trying to give you a hard time." Link to audio.
November 8, 2018
Joshua Tucker
Public Editor, a free online tool that anyone can use to get a credibility score on the content of news stories, began as a "sort of back-burner project" between Nobel Prize-winning physicist Saul Perlmutter and Nick Adams in 2015. At the time, Adams was a fellow at Berkeley's Institute for Data Science, which Professor Perlmutter continues to direct. Adams was developing a collaborative software program called TagWorks then, and Professor Perlmutter had asked him if he thought the software could be helpful in teaching students in his critical thinking course to find thinking errors in the news. "We started hashing out some designs," Adams says. "Once it become clear that some bad actors had weaponized news-sharing through social media to intentionally misinform voters, my nonprofit citizen science lab, the Goodly Labs, really kicked into high gear on the project."
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