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News | Professor Nima Arkani-Hamed Wins Prestigious Physics Prize


02 Aug 2012 12:40Comments

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NimaArkani-Hamed.jpg 12:40 p.m. IRDT, 12 Mordad/August 2 Nima Arkani-Hamed, professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study's School of Natural Sciences in Princeton, has been named one of the nine recipients of the inaugural Fundamental Physics Prize, established by Yuri Milner, a former physics student who dropped out of graduate school in 1989 and later earned billions investing in Internet companies like Facebook and Groupon. Arkani-Hamed is a son of Professor Jafar Arkani-Hamed, who used to chair the physics department at Tehran's Sharif University of Technology and is now emeritus professor of earth and planetary sciences at McGill University in Montreal.

Each recipient of the Fundamental Physics Prize will receive $3 million, and together the nine will form a selection committee for future winners of the prize. It is expected that the prize will henceforth be awarded to one physicist annually for what the Milner Foundation describes as "transformative advances in the field."

Born in 1972 in Houston, Texas, Nima Arkani-Hamed received a joint degree in mathematics and physics from the University of Toronto in 1993. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California in Berkeley in 1997, after which he spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. He then joined the Berkeley faculty as an assistant professor in 1999; he was promoted to associate professor two years later. After spending one year at Harvard University as a visiting professor, he joined the faculty and served as a professor of physics from 2002 to 2007. He then joined the Institute for Advanced Study.

Among his previous honors, Arkani-Hamed was recognized as an outstanding young scientist with an Alfred P. Sloan fellowship in 2000-02 and a Packard fellowship in 2000-05. In 2003, he received the Gribov Medal from the European Physical Society and, in 2008, Israel's Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in Physics. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.

One of the greatest questions in physics has been why gravity is so weak compared to the other three fundamental forces in nature. Arkani-Hamed's research has addressed this question and shown how gravity's weakness might be explained by the existence of up to seven extra dimensions of space that cannot, as yet, be directly detected. He has proposed new physical theories that can be tested at CERN's Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland.

The other recipients of the prize are Professors Edward Witten, Juan Maldacena, and Nathan Seiberg, all of the Institute for Advanced Study; Andrei Linde of Stanford University; Alexei Kitaev of the California Institute of Technology; Alan Guth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Maxim Kontsevich of the Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies, outside Paris; and Ashoke Sen of the Harish-Chandra Research Institute in Allahabad, India.

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