Astrophysician Saul Perlmutter was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics alongside two other scientists, Professor Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess.
Professor Perlmutter, a senior scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is a specialist of supernovas. These brief but extremely powerful cosmic explosions, which produce the same energy as a million suns, represent to scientists a privileged glimpse at the expansion of the universe, a phenomenon known since the 1930s. Professor Perlmutter’s major discovery dates from 1998, when his team was able to demonstrate that, contrary to majority opinion at the time, that expansion was not stable but rather in constant acceleration. This result calls into question many fundamental concepts of cosmology and is at the heart of new theories about “black matter.”
The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs is honored that the Nobel Institute chose to honor the work of Professor Perlmutter, who has collaborated closely with several French research teams. In particular Mr. Perlmutter was at the helm of three projects selected and supported by the France-Berkeley Fund in 1997, 2001, and 2008 led in cooperation with the Institut de Physique Nucléaire de Lyon and the Laboratoire de Physique Nucléaire des Hautes Energies in Paris. The Fund’s support helped implement the important bilateral research program “Nearby Supernovae Factory,” which is still functioning today.
Bestowing this the highest scientific honor on Professor Perlmutter confirms the pertinence and quality of the projects financed by the France-Berkeley program, which for over 20 years has supported collaboration between the University of California at Berkeley and the whole French scientific community.
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The France Berkeley Fund was established in 1993 as a partnership between the government of France and the University of California at Berkeley, the France-Berkeley Fund (FBF) promotes scholarly exchange in all disciplines between UC Berkeley and all research centers and public institutions of higher education in France. Through its annual grant competition, the Fund provides seed-money for innovative, bi-national collaborative research. Successful projects bring together senior and junior researchers in a variety of ways, from workshops and conferences to exchanges of researchers in laboratories. For the 2012 grant program applications from UC Berkeley, UC Davis and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are eligible for the competition.