Indian origin researchers win ‘Oscars of Science’ prize in physics

Wednesday 13th October 2021 06:52 EDT

California: Indian Americans Vedika Khemani, assistant professor of physics at Stanford University, and California Institute of Technology Astronomy Professor Mansi Kasliwal have each been named recipients of the New Horizons in Physics prize from the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.

Two Indian researchers from the University of Cambridge in England also won this year’s prize. Sir Shankar Balasubramanian, in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, was honored with the Life Sciences prize for developing next generation sequencing technologies, which allowed for immediate identification and characterization of the Covid-19 virus, rapid development of vaccines, and real-time monitoring of new genetic variants. Balasubramaniam was knighted in 2017.

Suchitra Sebastian, a condensed matter physicist at Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, received the award in Physics for her work with “high precision electronic and magnetic measurements that have profoundly changed our understanding of high temperature superconductors and unconventional insulators,” according to a press release.

According to a press release issued by Stanford, time crystals, like all crystals, are structurally arranged in a repeating pattern. But, while standard crystals – like diamonds or salt – have an arrangement that repeats in space, time crystals repeat across time forever. Importantly, they do so without any input of energy, like a clock that runs forever without batteries.

Khemani’s work offered a theoretical formulation for the first-time crystals, as well as a blueprint for their experimental creation. But she emphasized that time crystals are only one of the exciting potential outcomes of out-of-equilibrium quantum physics, which is still a nascent field, noted Stanford.

In 2017, Kasliwal and her fellow researchers Gregg Hallinan, Alessandra Corsi, and Raffaella Margutti, helped make history with their observations of the first-ever cosmic event to be witnessed in both gravitational waves and electromagnetic, or light, waves. Kasliwal's team was one of the first to observe the collision in visible and infrared light, using the Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen project, a worldwide network of telescopes that specializes in catching short-lived energetic events such as this. The GROWTH team put together a picture of a cocoon breaking out to explain the rich multi-wavelength data set.

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