A Bengali on top of the world! Yes, the prestigious Dirac Prize for 2014 has been co-awarded to the theoretical physicist Ashoke Sen for his significant contributions to String Theory. The Presidency alumnus has won the award along with Andrew Strominger of USA and Gabriele Veneziano of Italy, also physicists. They, according to the prize-giver, ICTP, “have made crucial contributions to the origin, development and further understanding of string theory.”
String Theory attempts to give a unified explanation for the origin of the universe and its composition. It refers to the mathematical models which seek to find a common explanation for the four main forces seen in nature – electromagnetic force, the strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force, and the force of gravity.
ICTP is the acronym for Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, which is an international research institute for physical and mathematical sciences based in Trieste, Italy. The Dirac Prize has been awarded since 1985 to scientists who have made crucial contributions to theoretical physics. It is named after Paul Dirac, one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century.
Currently, Ashoke Sen is a professor at the Harish-Chandra Research Institute in Allahabad. Dr Sen is not new to prestigious awards, though, and that too from a relatively young age.
He won the ICTP Prize in 1989, which is awarded to an under-40 physicist or mathematician from a developing country to promote research in theoretical mathematics and physics in the developing world. Then in 2012, another prestigious international award followed, the Fundamental Physics Prize in 2012. This prize, awarded by Fundamental Physics Prize Foundation, a Russian not-for-profit organisation, is the most lucrative academic prize in the world, carrying a prize money whose amount is more than double that of the Nobel Prizes. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society (of the UK) in 1998, at the age of only 42, on being nominated by none other than Stephen Hawking.
In India, he has been presented the Padma Bhushan in 2013, the Padma Shri in 2001, the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology (called SS Bhatnagar Award in short) in 1994 and the Infosys Prize in the Mathematical Sciences in 2009.
We hope that this brilliant physicist continues to win awards and bring glory to the country.
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