KOCHI: There are nine Malayalees among the 37 Indians and 1,012 scientists worldwide, who’ll share $2 million for the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics awarded to the discoverers of gravitational waves.
The Breakthrough Prize, regarded as the greatest prize in physics after Nobel, has a total prize money of $3 million, over twice as much as the purse awarded to Nobel Laureates.
This year’s prize announced earlier this week hands over $1million, which will be equally shared among the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory(LIGO) founders-- Ronald W P Drever, Kip S Thorne and Rainer Weiss. Another award, Grubber Foundation’s Cosmology Prize, announced on Wednesday, also recognises the 1,012 scientists for their contribution with citations, though, the LIGO founders will share the $500,000 award money. The LIGO discovery team bagged the award for the first observation of gravitational waves, ripples in space-time, predicted by Sir Albert Einstein.
The Malayalee scientists, who contributed to the award winning paper, are Dr C S Unnikrishnan (Faculty),Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR-Mumbai); Dr K G Arun (Faculty),Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI); Dr Parameswaran Ajith (Faculty), International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS-TIFR, Bangalore); Dr Achamveedu Gopakumar (Faculty), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, (TIFR-Mumbai); Haris M K (PhD Student), IISER Trivandrum; Muhammed Saleem (PhD Student), IISER Trivandrum; Nikhil Mukund Menon (PhD Student), Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCAA, Pune); Gogy George (Scientist), Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT, Indore) and Sunil S (Scientist ) Institute fo Plasma Research (IPR, Gandhinagar).
“This is a proud moment for all Malayalees and an inspiration for our youngsters who want to pursue a career in science,” said Dr Joe Jacob, associate professor, Newman College, Thodupuzha who is also a visiting associate, Inter University Centre for Asronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune. Jacob, who is also a member, Public outreach and Education Committee (POEC), Astronomical Society of India (ASI), said another scientist Bala Iyer from Mumbai, also has a Malayalee connection as he was born in Palakkad, though, he studied and is now with the ICTS,Bangalore.