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Zamolodchikov Shares $3M Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

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Alexander Zamolodchikov, C.N. Yang/Wei Deng Endowed Chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Stony Brook University Distinguished Professor and C.N. Yang/Wei Deng Endowed Chair Alexander Zamolodchikov has been named co-recipient of the 2024 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.

Zamolodchikov and co-winner John Cardy of All Souls College, University of Oxford, were cited “for profound contributions to statistical physics and quantum field theory, with diverse and far-reaching applications in different branches of physics and mathematics.” They will share one of the five $3 million prizes announced by the Breakthrough Foundation on September 14.

The Breakthrough Prize honors an esteemed group of the world’s most brilliant minds for impactful scientific discoveries, including a subset responsible for substantial progress in the understanding and treatment of major diseases. The Prize – popularly known as the “Oscars® of Science” – was created to celebrate the wonders of our scientific age by founding sponsors Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Julia and Yuri Milner, and Anne Wojcicki.

Professors Zamolodchikov and Cardy were recognized for their contributions of  a “lifetime of deep insights into quantum field theories, which describe not only particle physics, but emergent phenomena from magnetism and superconducting materials to the information content of black holes, and have also become a rich field of study in mathematics.”

“The Breakthrough Prize is a wonderful and well deserved recognition of Professor Zamolodchikov, a visionary physicist who has advanced fundamental research in physics throughout his incredible career,” said Stony Brook President Maurie McInnis. “The C. N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics and more generally Stony Brook’s Department of Physics and Astronomy continue to redefine the current field of theoretical physics, inspiring our students with some of the best and most exciting faculty in the world. As the inaugural C.N. Yang – Wei Deng Endowed Chair in Stony Brook’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, Professor Zamolodchikov has made an indelible impact not only on our institution but on human’s understanding of our shared reality.”

“Distinguished Professor Alexander Zamolodchikov is one of the most accomplished theoretical physicists worldwide,” said George Sterman, director of the C. N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics and Distinguished Professor at Stony Brook University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.  “He has made groundbreaking advances, with enormous impact in many physics fields, such as condensed matter physics, quantum statistical physics and high energy physics, including our understanding of  fundamental matter and forces. His insights have profoundly influenced the way that theoretical physicists think about foundational concepts, providing new paths that are being explored at many leading theoretical physics centers, including Stony Brook. As the first C.N. Yang – Wei Deng Professor of Theoretical Physics, he continues the tradition of theoretical physics at Stony Brook at the very highest level.”

This is the third Breakthrough Prize for Stony Brook University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and the second for the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics. Distinguished Professor Emeritus Peter van Nieuwenhuizen was honored for the discovery of supergravity in 2020, and Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy Chang Kee Jung and his group won in 2016 for the fundamental discovery and exploration of neutrino oscillations with the Super-Kamiokande, K2K and T2K experiments. 

Stony Brook’s first Breakthrough Prize winner was Sir Simon K. Donaldson, who won the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics in 2015 for the study of the relation between stability in algebraic geometry and in global differential geometry.

The laureates will be celebrated April 13, 2024 at the 10th annual Breakthrough Prize ceremony, held in Los Angeles. The Breakthrough Prize ceremony is the only one of its kind that places scientists on center stage, and is attended by luminaries in film, sports, comedy, and music, to lend their spotlight to shine on scientists.

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