Four astronomers have been awarded the 2011 Cosmology Prize from the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation.
The Gruber Foundation honors individuals that carry out groundbreaking work and research in the fields of Cosmology, Genetics, Neuroscience, Justice and Women’s Rights. The winners of this year’s Cosmology Prize will share the $500,000 award.
The four scientists have worked on key information that has changed the way the world of science has perceived the expanding Universe.
The winners are:
- Marc Davis, Astronomer, University of California, Berkeley
- George Efstathiou, Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology in Cambridge, England
- Carlos Frenk, Director of the Institute for Computation Cosmology at Durham University in England and
- Simon White, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany
Previously, using the law of gravity as a base theorem, it was thought that, although the Universe was constantly expanding, this expansion would eventually slow down and reverse. The thought being that matter attracts matter.
What has astounded Astrophysicists is that, during investigations, the Universe isn’t behaving the way they thought it should. Instead of a continually slowing expansion (like an elastic band), scientists have observed the outer edges of the Universe expanding outwards at a much quicker rate. Although nothing can be seen that could explain this, it does appear as though there could be additional matter that is attracting these outer edges towards it.
The four prize winning Scientists have spent the last 20 years mapping key computer simulations that have been instrumental in convincing experts of the existence of ‘dark matter’. Their citation for their award states ‘The work of Professors Davis, Efstathiou, Frenk and White galvanized support for ‘cold dark matter’ as the dominant form of matter in the Universe and has thus been instrumental in the crafting of our current cosmological paradigm.’
Although we don’t know what it is and we can’t see anything yet, there appears to be something out there. Who knows what the next 20 years of research will uncover!