Ralph A. Alpher, Ph.D., D. Sc. (Honoris Causa), 1921-2007, Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist
Welcome all to this website dedicated to the work, life, and career of Ralph A. Alpher, Recipient of the 2005 National Medal of Science "For his unprecedented work in the areas of nucleosynthesis, for the prediction that universe expansion leaves behind background radiation, and for providing the model for the Big Bang theory." [actual National Medal of Science citation]



   Please use the Contact Us Page for any communication, which will go to Dr. Victor S. Alpher.   The following are presently available on a highly limited basis  (CD $50 plus postage; DVD $100 plus postage; reduced postage for multiple orders). Intended primarily for the Historian of Science, and Physics/Cosmology research community:  VHS to DVD is also available for some of Dr. Alpher's lectures at Union College.  Please inquire.

1.     1966 Audio Interview on CD "The Universe Revisited" (@ 30 minutes).

2.     1973 Audio Lecture on CD in Richmond, Virginia--Big Bang Past, Present, Future.

3. 1982 Interview on 980 AM, WSIX, Nashville, Tennessee,  The Al Voecks Show. (2 minutes of the beginning missing).  22-plus minutes. Explanation of universal expansion, "Big Crunch," nontechnical.

4.     1988 Lecture on DVD in Dr. John Sowa's Chemistry class at Union College on the Big Bang,  Union College, Schenectady, New York.  Sound and picture quality excellent.  Approximately 45 minutes, excellent sound and picture quality.

5.     1994 Colloquium DVD @ 90 minutes on the Big Bang.  Excellent sound and picture quality.

6.     1999 Radio Interview on CD--@ 23 minutes.

7.     2000 Interview--Two one-hour DVDs, excellent sound and picture quality, interview including extensive reminiscences from Dr. Alpher's early career at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution, and work with Drs. Gamow and Herman.

8.    60 minute DVD interview of January 4, 2005 in which Dr. Alpher discusses the current state of the Big Bang, current understanding of black holes and dark matter, and other matters of current cosmological significance.  Excellent sound and picture quality.

7.    In addition, a PACKET of about 50 pages of expansions, corrections, and errata is now available as a companion to Dr. Alpher´s book co-authored with Dr. Robert Herman, "Genesis of the Big Bang" (Oxford Press, 2001). As it is classified as a textbook, the best way to obtain the book is through www.amazon.com or order from a local bookseller. The original book, long out of print, is now, once more, available "on demand" with the original dustjacket integrated into a durable hardcover.  Please contact Dr. Victor S. Alpher through the Contact Us page (2). A very limited number of signed 1st editions are available, as well as 1st editions in new condition.


     Since February 3, 2004, Dr. Alpher was Distinguished Research Professor of Physics and Astronomy Emeritus of Union College and University, Schenectady, New York. His seminal paper, "Formation of the Chemical Elements", appeared in the journal Nature on April 1, 1948.  The paper was based on his dissertation, which was attended by 300 persons, including press, resulted in a Herblock cartoon, in the Washington Post, wire press releases, and faculty in full academic regalia--very unusual for  such an event!  He was interviewed on television in 1949--also quite unusual for such scientific work.  In 1945 he had also been awarded the Naval Ordnance Development Certificate (with Symbol) for his significant work for the U.S. war effort as a Physicist, and received a second Naval Ordnance Development award in 1946.  During that period, while working on his degrees at night school, he was pursuing important war-related work for the U.S. government as a civilian. Two articles in press as of 10/1/09 in The Submarine Review, the official journal of The Naval Submarine League, will examine his contribution in the final year of WWII to contact-magentic influence exploders (October, 2009 and January 2010 issues). 

     For his groundbreaking work on the Big Bang theory, he has received awards from the American Philosophical Society (Magellanic Premium), the Franklin Institute (John Price Wetherill Medal), the National Academy of Sciences (Henry Draper Medal), the Belgian Academy of Sciences Physics Prize (Prix de Georges Vanderlinden), and the National Medal of Science (U.S.A.) .  NASA has grouped the works of Ralph A. Alpher and Robert A. Herman along with those of Albert Einstein, Penzias and Wilson, and other important figures in cosmology of the 20th Century (COBE project brochure). His original prediction of the Cosmic Background Radiation was confirmed by observations made in 1964.  Also, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) through the COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) Project further confirmed Dr. Ralph A. Alpher's groundbreaking work. COBE is one of NASA's most important projects of the last two decades in cosmology, and the Nobel Prize was awarded to John Mathers and George Smoot in 2006 for work related to COBE's findings.  On July 27, 2007, Dr. Alpher was awarded the 2005 National Medal of Science by President George W. Bush.  After a long illness, Dr. Ralph A. Alpher passed away on August 12, 2007 in Austin, Texas. His affiliation for the Natonal Medal of Science was designated as The Dudley Observatory--Schenectady, New York.  Ralph Alpher was associated with Dudley from the 60s through the 2000s, and was its Administrator from 1987 through 2004.

   Much of his original work is misattributed to his dissertation chair, Dr. George A. Gamow.  The intellectual history of the idea of an expanding universe goes back to Aleksandr Friedman at the University of Petrograd, later the University of Leningrad.  Gamow was never officially a student of Friedman, but names him as an intellectual predecessor.  All of current cosmology has a foundation in Einstein's Theory of Relativity. In the 1930s, Tolman's work clearly antedates the speculations of George Gamow--and speculated he did, on many subjects in science.  In fact, from 1948 through 1951, Gamow opposed the idea of the "remnant" or "relic" Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation.  It has now been measured with such great precision as to be incontrovertible evidence favoring the expansion model, in contrast to the steady state model.  All who are interested in cosmology and astrophysics, even the legions of so-called "amateurs" are encouraged to read the upcoming article in the journal Physics in Perspective which should appear in the September or December 2012 issues. It is a nearly 10,000 word paper. You will not want to miss it.  Original never-before published photographs are also included.  One of them shows Ralph A. Alpher at home, in the Autumn of 1947, age 26.

        This website is maintained by Dr. Victor S. Alpher, all U.S. and international copyrights and intellectual property rights (c) 2009 held by Dr. Victor S. Alpher, Austin, Texas, U.S.A.  Reproduction of any content by digital, electronic, or other means is prohibited.  Permission to reproduce photos should be directed to Dr. V. Alpher through the Contact Us page.



 Did you see it yet?  Episode 8 of the History Channel's series "The Universe" Season One, "Beyond the Big Bang" featuring Dr. Ralph A. Alpher is still available.  It received a CINE award in 2007 and is still available for sale from the History Channel and A & E Networks. Don't miss it!!! Script by producer Matthew Hickey of Workaholic Productions (and previously Modern Marvels), who interviewed Dr. Alpher for the documentary on September 1, 2006, in Austin, Texas. This is the last formal interview given by Dr. Alpher, integrated into the history of cosmology from man's earliest wonderment at the heavens above, to the findings of the Cosmic Microwave Background Explorer.  Ralph A. Alpher had been proposing such observation from interstellar space, absent the noise from terrestrial sources, leading to a higher Signal to Noise ratio, since the early 1960s.  This is documented in the Physics in Perspective article..

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