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Very rubin observatory, Credit: Rubin Obs/NSF/AURA

Perimeter cosmologist Kendrick Smith shares in Breakthrough Prize

account_circle By Tenille Bonoguore
Perimeter cosmologist Kendrick Smith shares science’s richest prize as the WMAP experiment wins the 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.

It was the experiment that marked the end of the beginning. By mapping the radiation left over from the big bang – known as the cosmic microwave background – the Wilkinson Microwave Anistropy Probe (WMAP) brought precision to cosmology and set the stage for a deeper understanding of the universe.

Now, the team behind that experiment has won the 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. The $3 million prize will be shared among the 27 team members, including Perimeter Institute cosmologist Kendrick Smith.

Portrait of Kendrick Smith, winner of the 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics
Kendrick Smith

The prize is the richest in science. In awarding this year’s prize to the WMAP team, the Breakthrough Foundation cited the project’s highly lauded results. The detailed maps of the early universe produced by the WMAP team “greatly improved our knowledge of the evolution of the cosmos and the fluctuations that seeded the formation of galaxies,” the citation read.

Perimeter Institute Director Neil Turok offered his congratulations to the WMAP team, and to Smith in particular.

“The WMAP satellite, and the Planck satellite which followed it, revealed an astonishingly simple picture of the universe on large scales, providing invaluable clues to the fundamental physics of the cosmos,” he said.

“We congratulate the whole WMAP team, and our own Kendrick Smith in particular, on winning this wonderful prize. Kendrick played a key role in analyzing the data of both satellites, and continues to pioneer data analyses for CHIMEHIRAX, and other leading-edge experiments.”

This is the sixth time Perimeter researchers have been honoured at the Breakthrough Prizes. Previously, five researchers have won the $100,000 New Horizons in Physics Prize, which recognizes outstanding work by early career researchers: Asimina Arvanitaki in 2016, Philip Schuster and Natalia Toro in 2015, Freddy Cachazo in 2014, and Davide Gaiotto in 2013. Several of Perimeter’s Distinguished Visiting Research Chairs and Visiting Fellows have also been honoured.

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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