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Galileo Medal to Juan Maldacena

Theoretical physicist awarded inaugural prize

Juan Maldacena has received the inaugural Galileo Galilei Medal (Image: GGI/INFN)
Juan Maldacena has received the inaugural Galileo Galilei Medal (Image: GGI/INFN)


Juan Maldacena, renowned theoretical physicist and a member of ICTP's Scientific Council, has been awarded the inaugural Galileo Galilei Medal by the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) in collaboration with the Galileo Galilei Institute (GGI) of Florence. The award cites Maldacena's "pioneering ideas in theoretical physics, and in particular for the discovery of duality between gravity and quantum field theory, with far-reaching implications". The two institutes announced the prize on 15 February, the 455th birthday of Galileo Galilei.

Maldacena is a faculty member of the Institute for Advanced Study and a professor of physics at Princeton University. He has made a major contribution to our understanding of the quantum physics of black holes. In 1997, he was the first to propose a fundamental relationship between the two most important theories in modern physics: quantum field theory and quantum gravity. His work also extends into other branches of theoretical physics. For example, in 2003 he proved that cosmic background radiation must contain a very specific signature that supports the inflationary models of the creation of the universe. In 2008, Maldacena shared ICTP's Dirac Medal with Joseph Polchinski and Cumrun Vafa for their fundamental contributions to superstring theory.

The Galileo Galilei Medal is awarded every two years to researchers who have made an exceptional contribution to the progress of research in theoretical physics. An award ceremony will take place on 2 May at GGI, located on the Arcetri hill in Florence, where Galileo spent the final years of his life. The medal itself was designed and cast by Picchiani & Barlacchi, artisans who have created medals, plaques and trophies for more than a century.