The prize acknowledges “their leadership in the prediction of the gravitational wave signals produced when compact objects like neutron stars and black holes spiral together and eventually merge. Their work was instrumental in the detection of gravitational waves, providing an extremely accurate confirmation of General Relativity as the theory of gravitation, and allowing the LIGO and Virgo detector complex to promote a type of astronomy which uses gravitational waves as new, powerful messengers of the universe.” – the Foundation explained in a press release on September 13.
Every year, the Foundation awards four Balzan Prizes, two in the category “Literature, Moral Sciences and the Arts”, and two in “the Physical, Mathematical and Natural Sciences and Medicine”. The awards are given to scholars, artists and scientists who have achieved international recognition in their field. Since 2001, the Balzan Foundation asks that prize winners use half of the prize to finance research projects carried out by young scholars or scientists.
This is already the third prize that Thibault Damour and Alessandra Buonanno have received this year, together with the Galileo Galilei Medal and the Dirac Medal, highlighting the importance of their theoretical work in the detection of gravitational waves.
IHES congratulates them on this prestigious recognition and is proud of being the birthplace of their collaboration started at the end of the 1990s, when Prof. Buonanno was a postdoctoral researcher at IHES.