Friday, June 04, 2010

Prizes, prizes everywhere (and how you can help me win one)

Everybody likes to win prizes.  In the past few days, a few major astronomy award winners have been announced.  Also, voting has opened for an award on science blogging, and I want to win!

Let's start with the science blogging contest.  As I mentioned last week, the blog at 3 Quarks Daily is holding their second annual prize for science blog writing.  The first part of the contest, nominations, is closed.  Now it is time for the public (i.e., you) to vote on the best blog writing.  The top 20 vote-getters will then be judged by the 3 Quarks editors, who will pare the list to 6 to 9 finalists, with the winners chosen by Professor Richard Dawkins.  The three winners get cash prizes!

So, head on over to see the list of nominees for the science blogging award, and then vote for me! (Or, if you must, someone else.)  Note that you may only vote once, so rather than breaking the rules, please convince your friends and neighbors to vote for me, too.  I promise to spend any award money on science education (except I will treat myself to one deluxe caffeinated beverage in celebration).

Voting ends on 11:59pm EDT on June 7, so head over there and vote for me today! Now, before you forget!

Alright, now on to recent astronomy award winners:

The 2010 Gruber Prize for Cosmology goes to Professor Charles Steidel.  The Gruber Cosmology Prize is an award co-sponsored by the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and the International Astronomical Union.  The prize is one of the few major awards devoted specifically to astronomy research, and is akin to the Nobel Prize in prestige among the community (astronomers can win the Nobel Prize in Physics if their work relates to fundamental physics, but most astronomy lies outside this interpretation).

Steidel has led many of the pioneering observations of galaxies in the very early Universe.  He and his collaborators developed some novel and efficient techniques for picking the most distant galaxies out of the sea of faint fuzzy galaxies visible from staring with a telescope.  The further away we look in the Universe is also the further back in time we are looking, so studying the most distant galaxies also means studying the youngest galaxies.  This work is very interesting, very clever, very important, and well-deserving of this prestigious award!

The 2010 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics was awarded to Jerry Nelson, Roger Angel, and Raymond Wilson.  The Kavli Prizes are as prestigious as the Gruber Prize.  This year's recipients are all noted for their work in telescope and optical design, work that has resulted in the largest optical telescopes in the world and, in the next decade, telescopes as large as 30 to 42 meters in diameter!  You can read about their individual contributions here.  I have obtained volumes of exquisite data from telescopes using the various technologies acknowledged in this award, and so I heartily agree that these recipients are highly deserving!