Saul Perlmutter, Adam Riess, and Brian Schmidt are awarded the Shaw Prize in Astronomy 2006 in recognition of their leadership roles on the two teams that made the remarkable discovery of an acceleration in the rate of the expansion of the universe. Such an effect had been known theoretically since shortly after Einstein applied his theory of general relativity to cosmology, but the general belief, including Einstein’s own assessment, was that the cosmological constant had no basis in reality. Thus, the 1998 announcement of the acceleration of the universe by the Supernova Cosmology Project and the High-z Supernova Search teams electrified the scientific community. The simplest interpretation, that the vacuum has energy even in the absence of matter and radiation, has profound implications that may revolutionize our understanding of the nature of the physical world and its ultimate fate. It is an achievement that is already taught to schoolchildren.


Astronomy Selection Committee
The Shaw Prize

21 June 2006, Hong Kong