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Four APS Members Share in 2018 Breakthrough Prize

WMAP science team honored with $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize for cosmic microwave maps

December 7, 2017

APS Fellows Charles L. Bennett (Johns Hopkins University), Lyman Page (Princeton University) and David Spergel (Princeton University), and APS member Gary Hinshaw (University of British Columbia) shared in one of three 2018 Breakthrough Prizes, along with Norman Jarosik (Princeton University), for their work creating maps of the early universe with the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) spacecraft. The five WMAP team leaders and the WMAP Science Team have been recognized with the $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize.


Charles Bennett photo

Charles Bennett

Lyman Page photo

Lyman Page

Gary Hinshaw photo

Gary Hinshaw

David Spergel photo

David Spergel

Courtesy of the Breakthrough Prize Board


From 2001 to 2010, the WMAP spacecraft measured temperatures across the entire sky. The maps provide a test of Big Bang models and the theory of cosmic inflation that describes the rapid expansion of the universe that appears to have occurred minute fractions of a second after the Big Bang. The WMAP spacecraft measurements have helped to establish the Standard Model of Cosmology, which explains the structure of the cosmic microwave background, the distribution of galaxies we see today, the abundances of elements in the early universe, and the ongoing dark energy-driven expansion of the universe.


NASA/WMAP globe image
NASA/WMAP Science Team


The Fundamental Physics Prize is one of a host of Breakthrough Prizes established by a group of entrepreneurs, artists and philanthropists including Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki, Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan, Yuri Milner, Julia Milner, Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang. The WMAP team leaders received the prize on December 3 in a ceremony hosted by actor Morgan Freeman at the NASA Ames Research Center in California.

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