US science awards recognize physics
Nov 22, 2000
President Clinton has awarded this year's Fermi prize to Sheldon Datz, Sidney Drell and Herbert York for their contributions to nuclear physics. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of atomic energy and is one of the most prestigious awards in the US. Datz receives the award for groundbreaking research in atomic and chemical physics, and Drell and York are recognized for their contributions to arms control and nuclear deterrence. The three scientists share a $200 000 prize and each receive the Fermi gold medal.
The US Government makes another presentation next week with the National Medal of Science awards on 1 December. Physicists Willis Lamb and Jeremiah Ostriker receive the medal. Lamb, of the University of Arizona, won the 1995 Nobel Prize for experimental work on hydrogen that revealed a new quantum relativistic effect. His work became one of the foundations of quantum electrodynamics. He also pioneered the field of laser physics. Ostriker, of Princeton University, is recognized for his contributions to astrophysics that revolutionized concepts of the nature of pulsars, the sizes and masses of galaxies, and the nature and distribution of matter in the universe.
Datz, 73, began his career as a research chemist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1953 and worked on atomic and molecular physics. Drell, 74, was deputy director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center until 1998. Drell is an arms control expert and has advised the US government on technical defence matters. York, 78, is a nuclear physicist and director of the University of California's Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation. He was science advisor to the US Government and negotiated the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty under President Carter.
Enrico Fermi's pioneering work in the field of atomic physics earned him the first award in 1954, which became an annual event two years later. The prize celebrates the lifetime contributions of scientists in areas of energy science and technology that have benefited humanity.