2018 Breakthrough prize in Fundamental Physics


Insights from fundamental physics have overturned our assumptions about the world around us. Last century, general relativity reshaped our picture of space and time, and quantum mechanics replaced the march of cause and effect with a dance of probabilities. Recently scientists have discovered that dark matter and dark energy account for most of the contents of the Universe. This century is likely to produce more surprises. From the Planck length to the cosmic scale, physicists are opening windows into the deep structure of reality. The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was founded in 2012 by Yuri Milner to recognize those individuals who have made profound contributions to human knowledge. It is open to all physicists — theoretical, mathematical, experimental — working on the deepest mysteries of the Universe.
The WMAP team has been recognized for detailed maps of the early universe that greatly improved our knowledge of the evolution of the cosmos and the fluctuations that seeded the formation of galaxies. My work as part of the team work involved analysing the data from the experiment for cosmological interpretation. WMAP accurate measurements of several key cosmological parameters, including the age of the universe at 13.77 billion years; the fact that more than 95 per cent of the energy in the universe resides in the form of dark matter and dark energy; and the notion that our universe likely began with a burst of “cosmic inflation.” These results establish the Standard Model of cosmology.
It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work with the team on such an exciting project!

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