John Cardy and Alexander Zamolodchikov win Breakthrough Prize

Perimeter congratulates John Cardy and Alexander Zamolodchikov for winning the $3 million Breakthrough Prize.

Recognizing “a lifetime of deep insights into quantum field theories,” the 2024 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to John Cardy and Alexander (Sasha) Zamolodchikov, whose work has had a wide-ranging impact in particle physics, superconductivity, and black holes, as well as pure mathematics. 

John Cardy and Alexander Zamolodchikov

“We offer our heartfelt congratulations to both John and Sasha on this well-deserved honour,” said Pedro Vieira, a fellow quantum field theorist who holds the Clay Riddell Paul Dirac Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter. “They’ve made immense contributions to many areas of physics and their impact on the Perimeter research community is deeply felt whenever they visit.” 

Zamolodchikov, a Russian physicist based at Stony Brook University, and Cardy, a British-American theoretical physicist and Emeritus Fellow at the University of Oxford, have both made major contributions to condensed matter physics, two-dimensional conformal field theory, and statistical mechanics. They’ve each made extended visits to Perimeter as part of the Institute’s Distinguished Visiting Research Chair program.

“Sasha combines this amazing technical prowess – being able to compute what other humans can’t – with an unmatched physical intuition. I think of him as the oracle of two-dimensional physics,” said Vieira. 

“And John is a visionary with a gift for distilling complicated subjects down to their key essence, rendering previously complex problems in simple, precise formulations. We were tremendously fortunate to count him as one of the first lecturers when we started the Perimeter master’s program.”

The Breakthrough Prize Foundation bestows some of the world’s richest and most prestigious awards for researchers. Cardy and Zamolodchikov will share the $3 million prize. In total, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation awarded more than $15 million (USD) in 2024 prizes spanning fundamental physics, mathematics, and life sciences.

About PI

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement. 

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