Astrophysics: Mr. Universe

His restless intellect has taken David Spergel to the beginning of time and the edge of space--and back again

David Spergel watched with particular interest one balmy afternoon this past June when a Delta rocket roared into space from Cape Canaveral, carrying an 1,800-lb. satellite on a mission to probe the outer edges of the universe. Not only did the 40-year-old Princeton astrophysicist expect to spend the next few months deciphering the data that the Microwave Anisotropy Probe beams back from space but he was also part of the team that dreamed up the mission and designed the satellite that would carry it out.

Theoretical astrophysicists don't usually get involved in the nitty-gritty of spacecraft design, but Spergel is...

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