The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the recipients of the 2005 Crafoord Prize today in Stockholm. James Gunn, James Peebles, and Martin Rees will share $500,000 for their work on the large-scale structure of the Universe.
The Crafoord Prize was established in 1980 by Holger Crafoord, the inventor of the artificial kidney, and his wife Anna-Greta. It is awarded each year for outstanding research in mathematics, astronomy, ecology, or geosciences--disciplines often ignored by the Academy's Nobel Prize.
Cosmologists James Gunn and James Peebles, both at Princeton University, and Martin Rees, at Cambridge University, United Kingdom, made revolutionary contributions to the understanding of how the universe evolved from a smooth primordial soup of particles and radiation into a rich diversity of stars arranged in galaxies and clusters. All three are theorists, but Gunn is also lead project scientist of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the largest project to date to map the 3-dimensional distribution of galaxies. The prize will be awarded in September.
"These are all very large names in cosmology," says theoretical astrophysicist Vincent Icke of Leiden University in the Netherlands. According to Icke, science prizes are sometimes awarded to people who made one single breakthrough, but Gunn, Peebles, and Rees made lifelong contributions, he says. "It's a real boon to the field."