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  • richardmitnick 3:18 pm on September 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Breakthrough Prize,   

    From American Astronomical Society: Women in STEM-“Jocelyn Bell Burnell Receives Special Breakthrough Prize” 


    From American Astronomical Society

    September 6, 2018
    Richard Tresch Fienberg
    Press Officer
    AAS Press Officer

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    The Selection Committee of the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics today announced a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics recognizing British astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell (an honorary AAS member) for her discovery of pulsars — a detection first announced in February 1968 — and her inspiring scientific leadership over the last five decades.

    Bell Burnell receives the Prize “for fundamental contributions to the discovery of pulsars, and a lifetime of inspiring leadership in the scientific community.” The discovery of pulsars was one of the biggest surprises in the history of astronomy, transforming neutron stars from science fiction to reality in a most dramatic way. Among many later consequences, it led to several powerful tests of Einstein’s theory of relativity, and to a new understanding of the origin of the heavy elements in the universe.

    Yuri Milner, one of the founders of the Breakthrough Prizes, said, “Professor Bell Burnell thoroughly deserves this recognition. Her curiosity, diligent observations and rigorous analysis revealed some of the most interesting and mysterious objects in the universe.”

    The Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics can be awarded at any time in recognition of an extraordinary scientific achievement. This is the fourth Special Prize awarded: previous winners are Stephen Hawking, seven CERN scientists whose leadership led to the discovery of the Higgs boson, and the entire LIGO collaboration that detected gravitational waves.

    Five decades after her dramatic discovery of the pulsar, Bell Burnell will be recognized at the Breakthrough Prize ceremony on Sunday, 4 November 2018.

    Discovery of Pulsars

    Jocelyn Bell Burnell was a graduate student in the mid-1960s, working with Antony Hewish at the University of Cambridge. While taking data with a new radio telescope that she had helped build, she found an unexpected signal: regular pulses of radio waves. With perceptiveness and persistence she characterized the signal and showed it originated from space. She had discovered pulsars. Hewish shared with Sir Martin Ryle the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his decisive role in the discovery of pulsars.”

    “Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s discovery of pulsars will always stand as one of the great surprises in the history of astronomy,” said Edward Witten, the chair of the Selection Committee. “Until that moment, no one had any real idea how neutron stars could be observed, if indeed they existed. Suddenly it turned out that nature has provided an incredibly precise way to observe these objects, something that has led to many later advances.”

    The study of pulsars has led to some of the most stringent tests of the general theory of relativity and the first observational evidence for gravitational waves. In one of the most exciting recent astronomical events, the coalescence of two neutron stars was observed in gravitational waves by LIGO, and in a wide spectrum of electromagnetic waves by a host of other observatories. Such coalescences — called kilonovae — are among the primary sources of heavy elements, like gold, that are so much a part of our daily lives.

    A Lifetime of Leadership

    For the last half-century, Bell Burnell has remained deeply engaged in astronomy, teaching at multiple research institutes and taking on leadership roles such as project manager of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii. Ever a champion of science, education and the STEM curriculum, she has been President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and the first female President of both the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Bell Burnell is currently a Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford, and Chancellor of the University of Dundee. She received a CBE in 1999 and a DBE in 2007 for her services to astronomy.

    Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

    A Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics can be awarded by the Selection Committee at any time, and in addition to the regular Breakthrough Prize awarded through the ordinary annual nomination process. Unlike the annual Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, the Special Prize is not limited to recent discoveries.

    See the full article here .

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    The American Astronomical Society (AAS) is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. Our mission is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:10 am on December 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Breakthrough Prize, Douglas Stanford wins Breakthrough New Horizons Prize for work on chaos and quantum gravity,   

    From Stanford University: “Douglas Stanford wins Breakthrough New Horizons Prize for work on chaos and quantum gravity” 

    Stanford University Name
    Stanford University

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    Breakthrough New Horizons Prize winner Douglas Stanford uses chaos to study the links between black holes and quantum physics. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

    December 3, 2017
    Nathan Collins
    (650) 725-9364
    nac@stanford.edu

    Douglas Stanford, an assistant professor of physics, has won a 2018 Breakthrough New Horizons Prize in Physics for work that uses chaos to better understand the links between quantum physics and black holes.

    The prize is given each year to up to three “promising junior researchers who have already produced important work,” according to the prize website. Each winner is awarded $100,000, funded by a grant from the Milner Foundation.

    Stanford said he learned of the prize after Edward Witten, a member of the Breakthrough Prize selection committee with whom Stanford is collaborating, emailed on a Friday afternoon and asked Stanford to call him.

    “I was worried he discovered some problem in our paper,” Stanford said. Instead, he got good news.

    “I think this will be most valuable to me as an encouragement,” said Stanford, who is currently on leave at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He said theoretical physics is an abstract pursuit, and it can feel disconnected from society at large. “It’s nice to feel it’s appreciated and connected in some way,” Stanford said. “I think that’s very meaningful.”

    As for the prize money: “I might buy a couple new soccer goals” for the Institute for Advanced Study’s soccer teams, he said. “There’s a lawn mower that keeps running them over.”

    Black holes and quantum chaos

    Stanford’s research deals with one of the most fundamental and important questions in theoretical physics: how to formulate a quantum theory of gravity, thereby reconciling the physics of black holes – nature’s densest objects, governed by Einstein’s theory of gravity – with quantum mechanics, the cornerstone theory of modern physics that explains just about everything there is to know about matter. Everything, that is, except black holes and gravity.

    Surprisingly, one lens through which to study the connection between black holes and quantum mechanics is another, seemingly unrelated pillar of modern physics: chaos. In a chaotic system, small changes in initial conditions lead to big changes down the road, an idea illustrated by the so-called butterfly effect, where a butterfly flapping its wings in one place can cause a tornado days or weeks later in another.

    In collaboration with Juan Maldacena and Stanford University physicist Stephen Shenker, the Richard Herschel Weiland Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford used a mathematical connection between quantum physics and gravity to show that black holes are the most strongly chaotic systems possible in our universe. Subsequent work suggested that black holes’ penchant for chaos may help explain a decades-old mystery, known as the information paradox, about what happens to objects when they fall into a black hole.

    Stanford’s discoveries also led him to study the physics of wormholes, objects through which a person could teleport from one place in the universe to another. Physicists had long believed that traversable wormholes, while interesting from a theoretical point of view, could not actually exist in nature. Just this year, however, theorists showed that quantum aspects of black hole physics could make traversing a wormhole possible, an idea Stanford said could yield further insights into the black hole information paradox.

    Stanford breakthroughs

    Stanford has a long-standing connection with Stanford University. He began his career in physics as an undergraduate at the university and stayed on for doctoral studies working with Leonard Susskind, the Felix Bloch Professor in Physics and the Wells Family Director of the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics. He earned his PhD in 2014 and left Stanford for the Institute for Advanced Study, but returned as an assistant professor of physics earlier this year.

    New Horizons prizes are one of three groups of Breakthrough Prizes in physics – the others are the $3 million Special Breakthrough Prize and the $3 million Breakthrough Prize. The Breakthrough Prizes also recognize researchers in mathematics and life sciences.

    Past Stanford University winners include Karl Deisseroth, the D.H. Chen Professor, professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, who won the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences; Roeland Nusse, the Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Professor in Cancer Research and a professor of developmental biology, who won the 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences; Xiaoliang Qi and Leonardo Senatore, associate professors of physics, who each won a 2016 New Horizons Prize; and Peter Graham, an associate professor of physics, who won a 2017 New Horizons Prize.

    Also, Associate Professor of Physics Sean Hartnoll was a New Horizons in Fundamental Physics winner in 2015, Shoucheng Zhang, the J. G. Jackson and C. J. Wood Professor of Physics, was a Physics Frontiers winner in 2013 and Andrei Linde, the Harald Trap Friis Professor, was in the inaugural class of laureates in 2012.

    See the full article here .

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    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

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