Six U.S.-Born Researchers to Be Awarded Shaw Prizes
Six U.S.-born researchers joined the ranks of Shaw Prize laureates Tuesday, as the annual award marked its 10th anniversary for recognizing scientists and scholars in the fields of astronomy, life science and medicine, and mathematical sciences.
The Shaw Prize was established in 2002 and began honoring individuals annually in 2004. It is named after the 105-year-old Hong Kong media titan and philanthropist Run Run Shaw. It is often referred to informally as the Nobel Prize of Asia.
Several previous recipients of the Shaw Prize have gone on to win Nobel Prizes, including Shinya Yamanaka, of Japan, who won the Shaw Prize in life science and medicine in 2008. Last year, Dr. Yamanaka shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with John B. Gurdon of the U.K. for their work in cellular reprogramming.
Each prize receives US$1 million, and in the case of two or more winners for one prize, the award money is shared.
This year, Steven A. Balbus and John F. Hawley were honored 'for their discovery and study of the magnetorotational instability, and for demonstrating that this instability leads to turbulence and is a viable mechanism for angular momentum transport in astrophysical accretion disks,' the selection committee said. Accretion 'plays a key role in star formation, mass transfer in stellar binaries, and the growth of supermassive black holes,' the committee said.
Prof. Kenneth Young, a member of the Shaw Prize council and professor of physics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, explained in an interview: 'If you start off with a system that is rotating and it comes together like an [ice] skater who brings his arms in, it speeds up the rotation─that's angular momentum.'
Dr. Balbus, who was born in Philadelphia in 1953, is Savilian professor of astronomy at the University of Oxford in the U.K. Dr. Hawley, who was born in Annapolis, Md., in 1959, is associate dean for the sciences, and a professor and chair of the astronomy department at the University of Virginia.
The prize for life science and medicine was shared by Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young 'for their discovery of molecular mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms,' the committee said, which are guided by biological clocks and drive the waking and sleeping cycle. The same fundamental mechanisms of circadian rhythms first identified by the three scientists in fruit flies 'also operate in other organisms, including humans,' the committee said. 'Links have already been made between these mechanisms and human disease,' it said.
Dr. Hall was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1945 and is visiting professor at the University of Maine. Dr. Rosbash was born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1944 and is professor of biology at Brandeis University. Dr. Young, who was born in 1949 in Miami, is vice president for Academic Affairs and professor at the Rockefeller University.
The mathematical sciences prize was awarded to David L. Donoho for his 'contributions to modern mathematical statistics and in particular the development of optimal algorithms for statistical estimation in the presence of noise and of efficient techniques for sparse representation and recovery in large data-sets,' the committee said.
The prime objective of Dr. Donoho's research is to apply mathematical and statistical tools to solve real-life problems, said Prof. Pak-chung Ching of CUHK and a member of the Shaw Prize council. For example, modern global communication often involves voice signals having to go through several networks as they are transmitted, Prof. Ching said, but sometimes the audio quality contains interference. 'How are we going to recover the original signal?' he said. Using statistical means, Dr. Donoho developed algorithms that would diminish noise and interference 'by recovering or reconstructing the original signal as much as possible,' Prof. Ching said.
Dr. Donoho was born in 1957 in Los Angeles and is professor of statistics at Stanford University.
The Hong Kong-based Shaw Prize Foundation recognizes individuals 'without regard to race, nationality, gender or religious belief, who have made remarkable achievements in these areas and who have contributed exceptionally to the advancement of civilization and the well-being of mankind,' Prof. Young said just before the awards were announced.
This year's laureates will receive their awards at a ceremony in Hong Kong on Sept. 23.
The Shaw Prize Foundation
天 文學獎甄選委員會說﹐今年的天文學獎授予拜爾巴斯(Steven A Balbus)和霍利(John F. Hawley)﹐以表彰他們對磁性旋轉不穩定性的發現和研究。他們的工作說明了磁性旋轉不穩定性引發湍流﹐並足以解釋天體物理學里吸積盤的角動量輸運機 制。甄選委員會說﹐吸積盤在恒星形成、雙子星中的質量轉移以及超大質量黑洞的發展中發揮著重要作用。
The Shaw Prize Foundation
拜 爾巴斯1953年出生於美國費城﹐現為英國牛津大學(University of Oxford) Savilian天文學講座教授。霍利1959年出生於美國馬里蘭州安納波利斯﹐現為弗吉尼亞大學(University of Virginia)天文學系主任、教授﹐理學院副院長。
生命科學與醫學獎甄選委員會說﹐今年的生命科學與醫學獎授予霍爾(Jeffrey C. Hall)、羅斯巴殊(Michael Rosbash)和楊(Michael W Young)﹐以表彰他們發現晝夜節律的分子機制。晝夜節律由生物鐘控制﹐形成覺醒和睡眠週期。甄選委員會說﹐這三位科學家最早是在果蠅身上發現晝夜節律 的基本機制的﹐這一基本機制同樣適用於包括人類在內的其他生物。委員會說﹐在這些機制與人類疾病之間已經找到了聯繫。
The Shaw Prize Foundation
數學科學獎甄選委員會說﹐今年的數學科學獎授予多諾霍(David L. Donoho)﹐以表彰他以表彰他對現代數理統計學的深遠貢獻：他開創了在有噪聲情況的最優統計估計算法﹐而他又建立了在大數據中實現稀疏表示和復原的高效率技巧。
香 港中文大學教授、邵逸夫獎理事會成員程伯中說﹐多諾霍研究的主要目的是運用數學及統計學工具解決現實生活中的問題。程伯中說﹐比如﹐現代全球通訊常常涉及 到聲音信號在傳送過程中必須通過多個網絡﹐但有時聲音質量含有干擾。他說﹐我們如何才能還原原來的信號呢？程伯中說﹐利用統計學方法﹐多諾霍通過盡可能地 還原或重建原來的信號﹐開發出可以降低噪音和干擾的算法。
楊在獲獎者名單公佈前說﹐香港邵逸夫獎基金會(Shaw Prize Foundation)表彰在學術及科學研究或應用上獲得突破成果﹐和該成果對人類生活產生深遠影響的科學家﹐原則是不論得獎人的種族、國籍、性別和宗教信仰。