Japanese Researcher Honored for Work on String Theory
The Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics, endowed with €137,036, has today been awarded to the Japanese scientist Hirosi Ooguri. Ooguri, who works at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the University of Tokyo, received the Prize for his work on string theory. The Prize is awarded by the Joachim Herz Stiftung in conjunction with the Wolfgang-Pauli-Centre and the Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging. The award ceremony took place on 7th November in Hamburg Planetarium.
String theory could help to answer the last remaining questions about the origins of the universe. It is deemed to be the most promising approach to unifying elementary particle physics with the General Theory of Relativity, which explains gravity, among other things. String theory could thus provide the basis for an all-encompassing theory of physics.
Ooguri has succeeded in enabling many physical phenomena to be computed with the aid of string theory. Moreover, Ooguri’s research on the quantum mechanics of black holes continues the research of physicist Steven Hawking.
This year is the first time the Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics has been endowed with prize money of €137,036. It is thus one of the most valuable science prizes in Germany. €100,000 are awarded to the prize winner themself, €37,036 are available for a scientific symposium which takes place in conjunction with the Hamburg award ceremony. Physicists also write the total amount of €137,036 as €1,000 divided by alpha. Alpha is Sommerfeld’s fine-structure constant, named for the physicist who supervised Wolfgang Pauli’s doctoral dissertation.
As the recipient of the prize, Ooguri will visit Hamburg to teach and to undertake research. The Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics aims to promote discussions with established scientists and also an exchange of ideas with junior scientists. Ooguri will therefore also hold seminars for doctoral students.
In his welcome, Dr. Henneke Lütgerath, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Joachim Herz Stiftung said: “In awarding the Prize to Hirosi Ooguri, we are honoring an outstanding researcher. His contributions to string theory have enabled significant progress to be made in this field in recent years. The jury’s choice is an excellent one to achieve what I consider to be the most important objectives of the Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics: promoting the exchange of ideas among researchers in person and enhancing the sciences in general with their focus on facts and clarity.”
Dr. Eva Gümbel, Councilor of State for the Department of Science, Research and Equality of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, stressed the impact of this prize for Hamburg as a center of research and science: “Hamburg already has a global profile in respect of its research into and with particle accelerators and light sources such as the European XFEL. And the quality of the physics done in Hamburg has been further emphasized with two approved Clusters of Excellence in the current Excellence Initiative. The prize, with its outstanding and internationally eminent recipients, is an important element of the visibility of the research here.”
In a panel discussion with the Vice President of Hamburg University, Prof. Jan Louis, and the Spokesperson of the Wolfgang-Pauli-Centre, Prof. Volker Schomerus, Ooguri said: “I am deeply honored to have been awarded the prize. I am also enjoying the scientific symposium in conjunction with the prize. I have already started to discuss with my colleagues in Hamburg on my visit next year and a set of lectures that I will give to students here. I am grateful to the Joachim Herz Stiftung for making all of these possible.”
ABOUT HIROSI OOGURI
Ooguri arrived at Caltech in 2000 as professor for theoretical physics, and is now Fred Kavli Professor and Director of the Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics at Caltech. He is furthermore President of the Aspen Center for Physics and recently became Director of the Kavli Institute for Physics and Mathematics of the Universe at the University of Tokyo. Ooguri has received numerous awards. These include being made a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he has also been awarded the Leonard Eisenbud Prize for Mathematics and Physics.
In addition to his research, Ooguri has successfully achieved his aim of explaining his work to a broad public. He is the author of several successful science books for the general public and was a scientific advisor to the movie “The Man from the 9 Dimensions”, which received the 2016 award for the best educational production from the International Planetarium Society. Ooguri will give an introduction to string theory on November 8th at a public showing of the film in Hamburg Planetarium. Further showings of the film in the Planetarium accompanied by talks given by Hamburg scientists are planned for next year.