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2004 Gruber Cosmology Prize Press Release

Alan Guth Headshot
Alan Guth
Andrei Linde Headshot
Andrei Linde

Alan Guth and Andrei Linde Win International Cosmology Award

Peter Gruber Foundation Cites Theoretical Physicists for?Development of Concept of Cosmic Inflation

St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. June 17, 2004 -- Leading theoretical cosmologists Alan Guth, Weisskopf Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Andrei Linde, Professor of Physics at Stanford University, who played prominent roles in developing and refining the theory of cosmic inflation, were selected by an international panel of experts to receive the 2004 Cosmology Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation.

The Foundation annually presents its gold medal and a $200,000 unrestricted cash award to an outstanding scientist or scientists who have made groundbreaking contributions in the field of cosmology. This year's award (which will be shared by the co-recipients) was presented on June 4 at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

The official citation read:

"The Cosmology Prize of The Peter Gruber Foundation is hereby proudly presented to Professor Alan Guth, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Professor Andrei Linde, Stanford University, for their development of fundamental ideas of cosmic inflation, which has been one of the dominant themes of cosmology for more than two decades.

The original concept of inflation and its many variations, including chaotic inflation, proposed and developed by Guth and Linde, have led to a revolution in our approach to studying cosmology and to understanding the history of the universe."

Inflationary theory describes the very early stages of the evolution of the universe and its structure. A modification of cosmology's Big Bang theory, it holds that all matter in the universe was created during a period of inflation, as the universe expanded at an incredible rate: It doubled in size each 10 to the minus 37 seconds. (Imagine a pea growing to the size of the Milky Way in less time than the blink of an eye).

Models of inflationary cosmology had been considered by others in the 1970s, but in 1981 Alan Guth pulled the ideas together and pointed out the cosmological problems solved by inflation, publishing his work as The Inflationary Universe: A Possible Solution to the Horizon and Flatness Problems.

There were problems with specific details of Guth's model (acknowledged by him also), and later in 1981 at an international conference in Moscow, Russian cosmologist Andrei Linde presented an improved version, called "new inflation." Others added to the refinements, and Linde went on to propose additional versions of inflationary theory, including the chaotic inflationary universe scenario and the theory of eternal chaotic inflation. Inflationary concepts have influenced more of modern cosmology in the past two decades than anything since the hot big bang of the 1960s.

Alan Guth, 57, received his bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in physics from MIT and worked at Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, and Stanford Universities before returning to MIT in 1980. Elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, he is the author of many technical publications and of the popular general audience book The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins.

Born in Moscow in 1948, Andrei Linde received a B.S. from Moscow State University and a Ph.D. from Moscow's Lebedev Physical Institute. Prior to joining the Stanford faculty in 1990, Linde worked at the Lebedev Physical Institute and at CERN, Switzerland. He also is the author of many scholarly papers and has written two books on particle physics and inflationary cosmology.

"We are extremely pleased to honor the work of Professors Guth and Linde and to pay tribute to the theory of cosmic inflation," said Peter Gruber, chairman of the Peter Gruber Foundation. "Their original ideas over more than 20 years have profoundly changed the field of cosmology."

The Cosmology Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation is one of the premier international prizes in the field. Last year's prizewinner was Professor Rashid Sunyaev, a leading Russian astrophysicist and pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy. Dr. Vera Rubin, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, received the prize in 2002. The recipient in 2001 was Sir Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal of the United Kingdom and Royal Society Research Professor at Cambridge University. Recipients of the Cosmology Prize in 2000 were Professor Allan R. Sandage, Staff Astronomer Emeritus, The Observatories (Pasadena, California) Carnegie Institution of Washington, and Dr. Phillip J.E. Peebles, the Albert Einstein Professor of Physics at Princeton University.

A distinguished Advisory Board selected the Cosmology Prize recipients for 2004 after a worldwide solicitation of candidates. Current members of the Advisory Board are: Professor V. Radhakrishnan of the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore; Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell of the University of Bath, U.K.; Dr. Robert Halleux of the University of Liege, Belgium; Professor Virginia Trimble of the University of Maryland and the University of California at Irvine; Dr. Katsuhiko Sato, Director, Research Center for the Early Universe at the University of Tokyo; Professor John Ball of the Mathematical Institute, Oxford; and Professor Robert Williams, Distinguished Research Scholar at the Space Telescope Science Institute in the U.S. Dr. George V. Coyne of The Vatican Observatory and Dr. Owen Gingerich of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics serve as special cosmology advisors to the Foundation.

Affiliation with International Astronomical Union

In 2000, the Peter Gruber Foundation and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) announced an agreement by which the IAU provides its expertise and contacts with professional astronomers worldwide for the nomination and selection of Cosmology Prize winners. Under the agreement, the Peter Gruber Foundation also funds a fellowship program for young astronomers, with the aim of promoting the continued recruitment of new talent into the field.

The International Astronomical Union, founded in 1919, organizes professional astronomers worldwide. Its current membership includes more than 8,000 individual astronomers from more than 70 countries. The IAU maintains a large program of international scientific, educational, and standardizing and coordinating activities.

The Peter Gruber Foundation
The Peter Gruber Foundation was founded in 1993 and established a record of charitable giving principally in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where it is located. In recent years the Foundation has expanded its philanthropic focus to the creation and awarding of a series of international awards recognizing discoveries and achievements that produce fundamental shifts in human knowledge and culture.