Barry Barish Awarded Copernicus Prize for Contributions to Science

Barry Barish, a world-renowned experimental physicist and Nobel Laureate who will be joining Stony Brook University as the inaugural President’s Distinguished Endowed Chair in Physics, has been awarded the Copernicus Prize, bestowed by the government of Poland on “those who made exceptional contributions to the development of world science.”

Barish will receive the prize from the Polish Ministry of Education and Science at the World Copernican Congress to be held in Toruń, Poland, February 19-21, 2023, celebrating the 550th birthday of Nicolaus Copernicus. Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473, in Toruń.

Barish, a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy at University of California Riverside, will join Stony Brook in Fall 2023. He shared the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for the observation of gravitational waves with the historic Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) experiment. This research proved the ripples in the fabric of space and time that were predicted by Albert Einstein 100 years earlier. He is also the Ronald and Maxine Linde Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology.

“It is fitting that Barry is recognized by the Copernicus Prize for his phenomenal work of discovering gravitational waves predicted by Einstein’s general relativity,” said Chang Kee Jung, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “Copernicus’s paradigm-changing revolutionary model of the universe fundamentally altered the way humankind sees the universe and the world beyond science. I say it is super cool! I am looking forward to having Barry on our campus in Fall 2023 to share his knowledge, ideas and wisdom with the greater Stony Brook community.”

“Interestingly, being associated with Copernicus has special meaning for me,” said Barish. “At a young age, I was impressed with his arguments that the earth was not the center of the universe and instead orbited the sun. It is good to see the Polish government take note of Copernicus, create a prize in his name and celebrate him.”

As the President’s Distinguished Endowed Chair in Physics, Barish will be teaching graduate students and serve as an advisor to Jung. Barish will also provide guidance on enhancing Stony Brook’s participation in gravitational astronomy research.

Barish was the inaugural featured speaker of the newly established C.N. Yang Colloquium series in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The series honors his fellow Nobel Laureate in Physics and Stony Brook University faculty member C.N. Yang, the namesake of the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics.

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