Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics
|The Fundamental Physics Prize|
|Awarded for||Transformative advances in fundamental physics|
|Presented by||Fundamental Physics Prize Foundation|
|Official website||Official Website|
The Fundamental Physics Prize is awarded by the Fundamental Physics Prize Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to awarding physicists involved in fundamental research which was founded in July 2012 by Russian physicist and internet entrepreneur Yuri Milner.
As of July 2012[update], this prize is the most lucrative academic prize in the world and is more than twice as big as the amount given to the Nobel Prize awardees. This prize is also dubbed by the media as the 'XXI Century Nobel'.
Nominations and awards money
As of July 2012[update], anyone can nominate a candidate through the FPP website. As of July 2012[update], each award is worth $3 million. The monetary value exceeds that of the prestigious Nobel Prize, which in 2012 stood at slightly more than $1.2 million. Physics Frontiers Prize laureates (those on the shortlist Fundamental Physics Prize) who do not go on to be awarded the Fundamental Physics Prize will each receive (as of 2013) $300,000 and will automatically be re-nominated for the Fundamental Physics Prize each year for the next 5 years.
New Horizons in Physics Prize
The New Horizons for Physics Prize, awarded to promising junior researchers, carries an award of $100,000.
The winners of the 2013 prize are Niklas Beisert of ETH Zurich, for the development of powerful exact methods to describe a quantum gauge theory and its associated string theory; Davide Gaiotto of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario, for far-reaching new insights about duality, gauge theory, and geometry, and especially for his work linking theories in different dimensions in most unexpected ways; Zohar Komargodski of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel for his work on the dynamics of four-dimensional field theories and in particular his proof (with Schwimmer) of the “a-theorem” which has solved a long-standing problem, leading to deep new insights.
The winners of the 2014 prize are Freddy Cachazo of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, for uncovering numerous structures underlying scattering amplitudes in gauge theories and gravity; Shiraz Minwalla of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, for his pioneering contributions to the study of string theory and quantum field theory; and in particular his work on the connection between the equations of fluid dynamics and Albert Einstein’s equations of general relativity; Slava Rychkov of the Pierre-and-Marie-Curie University, currently at CERN, for developing new techniques in conformal field theory, reviving the conformal bootstrap program for constraining the spectrum of operators and the structure constants in 3D and 4D CFT’s.
The winners of the 2015 New Horizons in Physics Prizes are Sean Hartnoll of Stanford University, for applying holographic methods to obtain remarkable new insights into strongly interacting quantum matter; Philip C. Schuster and Natalia Toro of Perimeter Institute, for pioneering the “simplified models” framework for new physics searches at the Large Hadron Collider, as well as spearheading new experimental searches for dark sectors using high-intensity electron beams; Horacio Casini and Marina Huerta of CONICET and Instituto Balseiro, Universidad Nacional de Cuyo; Shinsei Ryu of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Tadashi Takayanagi of Kyoto University for fundamental ideas about entropy in quantum field theory and quantum gravity.
The following is a listing of the laureates, by year.
The Fundamental Physics Prize trophy, a work of art created by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, is a silver sphere with a coiled vortex inside. The form is, in fact, a toroid, or doughnut shape, resulting from two sets of intertwining three-dimensional spirals. Found in nature, these spirals are seen in animal horns, nautilus shells, whirlpools, and even galaxies and black holes.
The name of 2013 prize winner was unveiled at the culmination of a ceremony which took place on the evening of March 20, 2013 at the Geneva International Conference Centre. The ceremony was hosted by Hollywood actor and science enthusiast Morgan Freeman. The evening honored the 2013 laureates − 16 outstanding scientists including Stephen Hawking and CERN scientists who led the decades-long effort to discover the Higgs-like particle at the Large Hadron Collider. Sarah Brightman and Russian pianist Denis Matsuev performed live for the guests of the ceremony.
Some have expressed reservations about the award.
What's not to like? Quite a lot, according to a handful of scientists […] You cannot buy class, as the old saying goes, and these upstart entrepreneurs cannot buy their prizes the prestige of the Nobels. The new awards are an exercise in self-promotion for those behind them, say scientists. They could distort the meritocracy of peer-review-led research. They could cement the status quo of peer-reviewed research. They do not fund peer-reviewed research. They perpetuate the myth of the lone genius.(...)
As much as some scientists may grumble about the new awards, the financial doping that they bring to research and the wisdom of the goals behind them, two things seem clear. First, most researchers would accept such a prize if they were offered one. Second, it is surely a good thing that the money and attention come to science rather than go elsewhere. It is fair to criticize and question the mechanism — that is the culture of research, after all — but it is the prize-givers’ money to do with as they please. It is wise to accept such gifts with gratitude and grace.
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- $3 Million Prizes Will Go to Mathematicians, Too, The New York Times