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2000 Gruber Cosmology Prize Press Release

Phillip James E. Peebles Headshot
Phillip James E. Peebles
Allan R. Sandage


ROME (November 9, 2000) - The Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican was the site today for the awarding of the first-ever prize dedicated to cosmology. The Cosmology Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation was bestowed upon two American scientists - Dr. Allan R. Sandage and Dr. Phillip J. E. Peebles. The Cosmology Prize, created to honor scientific advances in our perception and understanding of the universe, carries a cash award of US$150,000 for each recipient. It is given annually to an outstanding astronomer, physicist or mathematician, selected internationally by a board of distinguished peers in the field of cosmology.

The awards ceremony, held in the Aula Magna at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, was attended by the Honorable Corrine Boggs, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See; Professor Franco Pacini Director, Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory, Florence, representing the International Astronomical Union; Vatican officials; the Templeton Foundation's Far Future Universe conference attendees; Foundation advisory board members; and others.??His Eminence, Cardinal Paul Poupard, President, Pontifical Council for Culture, presented the awards.

The official citations read:

Allan R. Sandage, Staff Astronomer Emeritus, The Observatories (Pasadena, CA) Carnegie Institution of Washington, has for half a century been a leader in our observational quest to understand the stars, galaxies and the universe. This prize recognizes his relentless pursuit of the true values of the Hubble constant, the deceleration parameter, and the age of the universe.

Phillip J. E. Peebles, Albert Einstein Professor of Science, Princeton University, has made profound contributions to our knowledge of the physical processes that have shaped the structure of our universe. Over more than three decades he has, with rigor and imagination, advanced our understanding of phenomena which range from the creation of the lightest elements to the formation of galaxies and the cosmic distribution of matter and radiation.

"The Peter Gruber Foundation is pleased to recognize and honor Dr. Peebles and Dr. Sandage - two extraordinary theoretical and observational cosmologists," said Peter Gruber, founder of the Peter Gruber Foundation. "And no setting could be more suitable in the millennial year than the Vatican and its magnificent Pontifical Academy of Sciences. We are also beginning a tradition of presenting the awards in places notable to the history of cosmological science."

"It is a marvelous stroke of history that the first award of the Peter Gruber Foundation Cosmology prizes will occur at the seat of an Academy which is a descendant of the world's first scientific academy, Accademia dei Lincei, one of whose first members was Galileo Galilei," said The Rev. Dr. George V. Coyne, S.J., of the Vatican Observatory, and Cosmology Advisory Board member.

(Manchester, August 2000) - At the twenty-fourth general assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in Manchester, England, the Peter Gruber Foundation and the IAU announced an agreement by which the IAU will provide its expertise and contacts with professional astronomers worldwide to assist in the nomination and selection of future prize winners.

Under the agreement, the Peter Gruber Foundation will also fund a new fellowship program for young astronomers, with the aim of promoting the continued recruitment of young talent into the field. The first fellowship will be awarded in 2001.

The International Astronomical Union, founded in 1919, organizes professional astronomers worldwide. Its current membership includes 70 countries and over 8,000 individual astronomers. The IAU maintains a large program of international scientific, educational, and standardizing and coordinating activities. The next meeting of the general assembly will be in Sydney, Australia, July 13-26, 2003.