06/12/2007 07:00:00

Caltech Astrophysicist Peter Goldreich Wins $1 Million International Shaw Prize

PASADENA, Calif.—Peter Goldreich, the Lee A. DuBridge Professor of Astrophysics and Planetary Physics, Emeritus, has been named winner of the 2007 Shaw Prize for astronomy by the Shaw Prize Foundation of Hong Kong. The announcement was made Tuesday, June 12, at foundation headquarters in Hong Kong.

Goldreich is one of four winners of the prize, which is awarded each year in the fields of astronomy, life sciences and medicine, and the mathematical sciences. This year's other recipients are Robert Lefkowitz of Duke University Medical Center, Robert Langlands of the Institute for Advanced Study, and Richard Taylor of Harvard University.

Goldreich, who spends half his time at the Institute for Advanced Study, was cited by the Shaw Prize Foundation for his "lifetime achievements in theoretical astrophysics and planetary sciences." A native of New York, Goldreich joined the Caltech faculty in 1966 and took emeritus status in 2002, although he remains active in research.

Goldreich once described himself as a "general-purpose theoretician in astrophysics." His work has involved fundamental research into phenomena such as the dynamics of planetary rings, pulsars, masers, the spiral arms of galaxies, the rotation of planets as well as their orbital resonances, and the oscillations of the sun. His past papers have covered a range of topics, from why Saturn's rings have sharp edges, to how stars send out coherent microwaves, or masers, in a manner similar to lasers on Earth, to how the moon Io affects the radio bursts of Jupiter.

His current research is focused on planet formation and turbulence in magnetized fluids.

Among Goldreich's past honors is the 1995 National Medal of Science, which is generally regarded as America's highest scientific honor.

The Shaw Prize is an international award to honor individuals who are currently active in their respective fields and who have achieved distinguished and significant advances, who have made outstanding contributions in culture and the arts, or who in other domains have achieved excellence. The award is dedicated to furthering societal progress, enhancing quality of life, and enriching humanity's spiritual civilization. Each recipient of the Shaw Prize receives an award of $1 million.

Written by Robert Tindol