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Former RAS President wins Kavli Prize

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 April 2010 15:03
Published on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 00:00
lynden_bell.jpg7 pioneering scientists who transformed human knowledge have become the first joint recipients of the million-dollar Kavli prizes, it was announced in Oslo on 28 May 2008.The astrophysics prize was awarded jointly to former RAS President Professor Donald Lynden-Bell  and Maarten Schmidt, both of whose work underpins our understanding of quasars.During the 1960s Schmidt analysed the visible light spectra of quasars and used the results to explain just how distant these extraordinarily bright galaxies are, while Lynden-Bell demonstrated how they were powered by the collapse of material into massive black holes.
The prizes, a partnership between the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, The Kavli Foundation, and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, complement the Nobel Prizes which since 1901 have been given for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace.The joint seven winners, from the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan and the US, will receive a scroll, medal and a share of the $1,000,000 prize for each subject.
The Kavli Prize is named after and funded by Fred Kavli, the entrepreneur and philanthropist who was inspired to seek a career in science and engineering while marveling at the northern lights in the skies above the tiny Norwegian village where he grew up. He later moved to the US where he founded the Kavlico Corporation, which became one of the world’s largest suppliers of sensors for aeronautic, automotive and industrial application.

Donald Lynden-Bell, best known for his theories that galaxies contain massive black holes at their centre, and that such black holes are the principal source of energy in quasars was the first director of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge and is the holder of both the Eddington and Gold Medals awarded by the RAS.