My email box is flooded with news that the Gruber Prize (not named, unfortunately, for Hans Gruber — who would have been a good astronomer, since he spent quite a bit of time on the roof) was awarded to the two teams who, in 1998, discovered that the expansion of the Universe has been set on overdrive: a mysterious dark energy is accelerating the expansion. I’ll spare the details here and send you off to read an earlier blog entry I wrote explaining it (and a Bitesize piece I wrote at the time, and a followup).
The Prize is for a cool half million bucks, which will be divided up among the two teams. They’ve won many prizes in the past, too. It’s deserved. This was phenomenally tough work, and it’s looking like it’ll hold up. It changed the way we looked at the Universe, and may still have many surprises waiting for us.
I know a whole passel of the folks on those teams; I was tangentially involved at the time with Brian Schmidt’s team, and later wound up working for Saul Perlmutter on the education and public outreach for his SNAP experiment, which will follow up on the dark energy observations. I’ve promised to do this before, but someday I’ll write up my personal involvement; it’s a bit silly but a funny story. Someday.
Oh– Science Blogs’s Rob Knop gets a piece of this as well!
So congrats all around!