APS News

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.

News Update Archive

View Archive


APS News

Read Current Issue


Recent News Update
APS Celebrates Undergraduate Research with the LeRoy Apker Award Finalists
Seven undergraduates showcased their physics research at the annual Apker selection meeting.
Steven Weinberg 1933-2021
Architect of the Standard Model dies at 88.
Current US Policy on China: The Risk to Open Science
Free information exchange between research groups worldwide is essential for progress in science.
2021 APS Fall Prize and Award Recipients
APS announces the recipients of prizes and awards for achievements in fluid dynamics, nuclear physics, and plasma physics.
APS Thrilled with DHS Withdrawal of Proposed Elimination of Duration of Status
APS is delighted that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has withdrawn a proposed rule that would have eliminated the duration of status guidelines that allow international students and researchers on certain visas to remain in the country as long as they maintain compliance with their terms of admission.
David Wirth Named 2021 PhysTEC Teacher of the Year
Each year, the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) recognizes outstanding physics educators with the PhysTEC Teacher of the Year award.