A Johns Hopkins University astrophysicist has won the 2011 Einstein Medal for his discovery of a mysterious force dubbed "dark energy" that is accelerating the expansion of the universe.
Adam Riess, 41, will share the prize with Saul Perlmutter, of the University of California, Berkeley, whose team published similar results just after Riess' team. The prize has been awarded since 1979 by the Albert Einstein Society, in Bern, Switzerland, recognizing outstanding scientific work linked to Einstein's.
Precisely what dark energy is remains one of physics' most crucial questions.
Riess said the force "seems to live at the very nexus of two of our most successful theories of physics: quantum mechanics, which explains the physics of the small, and Einstein's theory of general relativity, which explains the physics of the large, including gravity. ... Dark energy is giving us a peek into how to make those two theories operate together."
Riess has won or shared a series of awards for his dark energy discovery, including the $1 million Shaw Prize in 2006, the 2007 Peter Gruber Foundation's $500,000 Cosmology Prize, and a 2008 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Grant worth $500,000.