Stephen Hawking, CERN scientists win physics prize



Stephen Hawking, CERN scientists win physics prize London: Stephen Hawking, British theoretical physicist, who today won the world's most lucrative science prize, said he will spend the 1.8 million pounds prize on a holiday home and his autistic grandson.

The renowned physicist won the Special Fundamental Physics Prize for a lifetime of achievements, including the discovery that black holes emit radiation, and his deep contributions to quantum gravity and aspects of the early universe.

According to The Guardian, the award is one of several set up in July by Yuri Milner, a Russian internet mogul, who quit his PhD in physics and made billions from investments in social media and other companies, such as Twitter, Facebook and Groupon.

In an email to the Guardian, Professor Hawking said he was "delighted and honoured" to receive the prize.

"No one undertakes research in physics with the intention of winning a prize. It is the joy of discovering something no one knew before. Nevertheless prizes like these play an important role in giving public recognition for achievement in physics. They increase the stature of physics and interest in it," he wrote.

"Although almost every theoretical physicist agrees with my prediction that a black hole should glow like a hot body, it would be very difficult to verify experimentally because the temperature of a macroscopic black hole is so low," he added.

The physicist, who rose to fame with his 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, and made guest appearances on The Simpsons and Star Trek, has not settled on how to spend the windfall.

"I will help my daughter with her autistic son, and maybe buy a holiday home, not that I take many holidays because I enjoy my work in theoretical physics," he wrote.

Hawking, 70, is not the only winner. The scientists who led the Large Hadron Collider and discovered what looks like the Higgs boson share another USD 3 million prize.

The winnings go to Lyn Evans, the head of the LHC, and the six past and present heads of the two detector groups, Atlas and CMS, which found the particle.

"I got a phone call saying I'd won a prize of a million bucks," Evans told the Guardian. "I was gobsmacked. The first thing you do is sit down. This is great for us, and it addresses some of the deficiencies of the Nobel prize, which cannot go to more than three people".

The Atlas and CMS teams each receive 1 million dollars. Beyond splashing out on an iPad, what to do with the winnings has Evans stumped.

"I don't need a vast amount of money. One thing I'm not going to do is ride around Cern in a Ferrari. That would be bad for my image," he said.

PTI