Supergravity theory wins $3m physics prize

Scientists behind the supergravity theory have won the $3m Physics Breakthrough Prize – four decades after they first proposed it.

Sergio Ferrara, Daniel Z. Freedman and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen have been recognised for their work which combines gravity and particle physics.

The prize committee said the group “are being honoured for the invention of supergravity, in which quantum variables are part of the description of the geometry of spacetime”.

Their theory on supergravity helped explain how particles interact with one another, gravity and other forces.

The work has been the backbone for many areas of physics, influencing many theories such as string theory.

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Forty-three years from their ground-breaking theory, the physicists from Italy, Netherlands and the US are still prominent scientists working in physics.

Professor Ferrara is at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, working on elementary particles and mathematical physics.

Professor Freedman is a visiting professor at Stanford University and professor emeritus of mathematics and physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Proferssor Van Nieuwenhuizen is a distinguished professor of physics at Stony Brook University, where he has worked since 1975.

:: Previous winners of the Physics Breakthrough Prize

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