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Shaw winners. From left, Shaun Cole, Kazutoshi Mori, and Daniel Eisenstein.

Shaw winners. From left, Shaun Cole, Kazutoshi Mori, and Daniel Eisenstein.

Six Scientists Snare Shaw Prizes

Work on the telltale traces of the early universe, protein production, and algebra has netted Shaw Prizes for 2014 for a half-dozen scientists.  

Half of the astronomy prize goes to Daniel Eisenstein of Harvard University, and the other half will be split by Shaun Cole of Durham University and John Peacock of the University of Edinburgh for the trio’s contributions to measuring galaxy distribution. That distribution reveals the imprint of sound waves in the hot plasma of the primordial universe. The sound waves, called baryon acoustic oscillations, may help probe the nature of the dark energy that's accelerating the universe’s expansion.

Molecular biologists Kazutoshi Mori of Kyoto University and Peter Walter of the University of California, San Francisco, will share the life science and medicine award for discovering the unfolded protein response, a cellular signaling pathway by which cells regulate protein production. Understanding this mechanism may open new treatment possibilities for conditions ranging from cancer to diabetes to neurodegenerative diseases, according to the prize announcement.

George Lusztig, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, won the mathematics prize for fundamental contributions to algebra and geometry.  

Hong Kong media entrepreneur and philanthropist Run Run Shaw established the prize in 2002 to recognize active scientists who have recently achieved significant advances. Each prize category carries a $1 million cash award.