Nine Physicists Just Got $3 Million Each

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Photo: NASA

Nine physicists just received the deposit of a lifetime: A $3 million reward for their research.The multimillion dollar prize came from Yuri Milner, in the form of the newly established Fundamental Physics Prize. Milner was a graduate student in physics in Russia, before dropping out and earning billions of dollars by investing in tech companies like Facebook and Groupon. The Fundamental Physics Prize will be awarded annually to researchers who have made “transformative advances in the field.”

“I am delighted to announce the launch of the Fundamental Physics Prize and welcome its first recipients. I hope the new prize will bring long overdue recognition to the greatest minds working in the field of fundamental physics, and if this helps encourage young people to be inspired by science, I will be deeply gratified,” Milner said in a press release from the foundation.

Here are the winners, from the foundation’s website:

Nima Arkani-Hamed — For original approaches to outstanding problems in particle physics, including the proposal of large extra dimensions, new theories for the Higgs boson, novel realisations of supersymmetry, theories for dark matter, and the exploration of new mathematical structures in gauge theory scattering amplitudes.

Alan Guth — For the invention of inflationary cosmology, and for his contributions to the theory for the generation of cosmological density fluctuations arising from quantum fluctuations in the early universe, and for his ongoing work on the problem of defining probabilities in eternally inflating spacetimes.

Alexei Kitaev — For the theoretical idea of implementing robust quantum memories and fault-tolerant quantum computation using topological quantum phases with anyons and unpaired Majorana modes.

Maxim Konstevich — For numerous contributions which have taken the fruitful interaction between modern theoretical physics and mathematics to new heights, including the development of homological mirror symmetry, and the study of wall-crossing phenomena.

Andrei Linde — For the development of inflationary cosmology, including the theory of new inflation, eternal chaotic inflation and the theory of inflationary multiverse, and for contributing to the development of vacuum stabilisation mechanisms in string theory.

Juan Maldacena — For the gauge/gravity duality, relating gravitational physics in a spacetime and quantum field theory on the boundary of the spacetime. This correspondence demonstrates that black holes and quantum mechanics are compatible, resolving the black hole information paradox. It also provides a useful tool for the study of strongly coupled quantum systems, giving insights into a range of problems from high temperature nuclear matter to high temperature superconductors.

Nathan Seiberg — For major contributions to our understanding of quantum field theory and string theory. His exact analysis of supersymmetric quantum field theories led to new and deep insights about their dynamics, with fundamental applications in physics and mathematics.

Ashoke Sen — For uncovering striking evidence of strong-weak duality in certain supersymmetric string theories and gauge theories, opening the path to the realisation that all string theories are different limits of the same underlying theory.

Edward Witten — For contributions to physics spanning topics such as new applications of topology to physics, non perturbative duality symmetries, models of particle physics derived from string theory, dark matter detection, and the twistor-string approach to particle scattering amplitudes, as well as numerous applications of quantum field theory to mathematics.

Each got $3,000,000 wired into their bank accounts, to use in any way they see fit.

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