Professor Nichol is the only cosmologist and one of just two British scientists to receive the award, which has a prize of 50,000 euros.
He said: "This is a great honour. The award recognises the research I have done recently on Dark Energy as part of my recent Marie Curie Excellence Chair."
In 2004, Professor Nichol won an equally prestigious Marie Curie Excellence Chair which allowed him to return to Europe from the United States to continue his research. He had been in the US for 12 years at the University of Chicago and Carnegie Mellon University. He now works at Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth, one of Britain’s centres of excellence in the field.
"The Marie Curie programme of the European Commission has helped reverse the brain-drain and makes Europe more attractive,” he said. “I now plan to stay here for the rest of my career."
The Marie Curie Award was given for Professor Nichol's research into the enigmatic substance called "Dark Energy" which makes up 75 percent of the energy density of the universe. He said: “We discovered this stuff ten years ago and are still pretty clueless about its origin. There are lots of theories – from vacuum energy to extra dimensions in the universe – but we need to study this phenomenon more, and determine some of its basic properties. For example, we don't even know if dark energy changes with time and/or position in space."
A key part of Professor Nichol's ambition with this prize is to enthuse children with the wonders of science. He said: "Dark energy was a complete surprise. That's why science is great; you can find things that are mind-numbingly cool and unexpected.
“The number of children studying science is in decline; why? We lose them somewhere between primary school and GSCEs, maybe because we forget to tell children that we haven’t solved all the problems yet. This is certainly the impression we give them when they look at our physics textbooks. I think we should start physics education by telling people all the stuff we don't know first.
“We also need to tell the public what we do for a living, and why they need to support us. Physics is really the bedrock of innovation and fundamental discoveries like dark energy will shape physics, and technology, for the next century.”
The other winners are Luisa Corrado, from Italy, Batu Erman from Turkey, Andrea Ferrari, from Italy, and Valerie O’Donnell, from Cardiff University.
Kate Daniell | alfa
Eduard Arzt receives highest award from German Materials Society
21.09.2017 | INM - Leibniz-Institut für Neue Materialien gGmbH
Six German-Russian Research Groups Receive Three Years of Funding
12.09.2017 | Hermann von Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy