2017 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics
The 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to Joseph Polchinski (University of California, Santa Barbara); Andrew Strominger (Harvard University; Perimeter Institute Distinguished Visiting Research Chair); and Cumrun Vafa (Harvard University) “for transformative advances in quantum field theory, string theory, and quantum gravity” at a Gala Ceremony in Silicon Valley on December 4. The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics recognizes researchers who have made major strides towards understanding the biggest questions of the Universe.
2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics
The LIGO collaboration was officially presented with the 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics at the Gala Ceremony on December 4, 2016, for their groundbreaking discovery of gravitational waves announced February this year. The presentation follows the prize announcement on May 2, 2016.
The CAP congratulates the entire LIGO Collaboration, and in particular the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) at the University of Toronto (a CAP member), the only Canadian member-group of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.
The CITA researchers involved in this work were: Senior research associate Dr. Kipp Cannon (now a Professor at the University of Tokyo), graduate student Heather Fong, former graduate student Marcel S. Kehl (now at the University of Bonn), postdoctoral fellow Dr. Prayush Kumar, and Professor Harald Pfeiffer (Canada Research Chair in Numerical Relativity and Gravitational Wave Astrophysics; and Fellow, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research).
“On behalf of the CAP, I am pleased to offer enthusiastic congratulations to the LIGO collaboration for the direct detection of gravitational waves. We are very proud of the CAP members on LIGO, Dr. Prayush Kumar and Professor Harald Pfeiffer, for the role they played in this important confirmation of general relativity. The experiment was a monumental tour de force due to the extreme weakness of the gravitational waves, and the researchers involved can be justly proud of their achievement,” said the President of the CAP, Prof. Richard MacKenzie, P.Phys.
“A Special Breakthrough Prize is a great and well-deserved honour for this astonishingly sensitive measurement. I am particularly pleased that this Prize not only honours the leaders of the gravitational wave experiment, but also the large number of dedicated scientists who turned the ideas of how to measure gravitational waves into reality,” commented Dr. Harald Pfeiffer.
2017 New Horizons
The New Horizons in Physics Prize, awarded by the Breakthrough Foundation, recognizes promising early-career researchers who have already made contributions to fundamental physics.
At the Breakthrough Foundation gala in Silicon Valley on December 4, 2016, Asimina Arvanitaki of the Perimeter Institute (a CAP member institution) and Frans Pretorius of Princeton University and Perimeter Institute Distinguished Visiting Research Chair, were among the scientists presented with the award.
Asimina Arvanitaki has made great efforts to push the field of fundamental physics into new and novel areas through, for example, her work with small precision experiments. Frans Pretorius, PhD (UBC) has produced influential work on numerical relativity.