Selected Fields 2009

Past - Astrophysics, History of the Universe

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We certainly know that our universe exists, however, this knowledge alone has not satisfied mankind's quest for further understanding. Our curiosity has led us to question our place in this universe and furthermore, the place of the universe itself. Throughout time we have asked ourselves these questions: How was our universe created? How old is our universe? How did matter come to exist? Obviously, these are not simple questions and throughout our brief history on this planet much time and effort has been spent looking for some clue. Yet, after all this energy has been expended, much of what we know is still only speculation.

We have, however, come a long way from the mystical beginnings of the study of cosmology and the origins of the universe. Through the understandings of modern science we have been able to provide firm theories for some of the answers we once called hypotheses. True to the nature of science, a majority of these answers have only led to more intriguing and complex questions. It seems to be inherent in our search for knowledge that questions will always continue to exist.

Einstein's profound theory of general relativity laid the foundation on which the remarkably successful physical theory of the universe has been constructed. Spurred by great progress in extragalactic astronomy, general relativity led to the standard cosmological theory. This so-called Big Bang model has been well substantiated by theoretical understanding of the synthesis of the light elements, and the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation - the most important evidence for the `primeval fireball'.

Whereas the moment of beginning has so far been outside the domain of known physics, many of the processes and events that occured during the evolution of the universe are believed to be understood from knowledge of the basic matter constituents, and our understanding of the fundamental interactions. The universe as we now know it is in an era of accelerated expansion, presumably driven by a mysterious form of dark energy, and its mass density is dominated by yet another unknown form of dark matter. Our knowledge of the universe comes from progress in theoretical physics, precise spactral and spatial measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation, extensive observations of large samples of galaxies and galaxy clusters, and distant supernovae.

The 2009 Dan David Prize for the Past Time Dimension will be awarded to an individual(s) whose great achievements in the fields of Astrophysics and Cosmology have greatly advanced our knowledge and understanding of the global properties, large scale structure, and evolutionary history of the universe.


Present - Leadership

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Leaders are courageous visionaries who inspire and motivate others to follow and who ceaselessly drive to accomplish their missions.

With such a description in mind and in light of the dramatic developments and vicissitudes of the last century and the beginning of this one, the Board of the Dan David Prize has decided honor a great leader of our times.

The 2009 Dan David Prize for the Present Time Dimension will be awarded to a person who has enhanced humanity on a grand scale and who has made a momentous impact in statesmanship, social issues, arts, industry, or in other domains, thereby changing our world for the better.


Future - Global Public Health

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A great disparity exists between the challenges of global health in developed and in developing nations. A similar disparity exits between affluent and poverty-stricken populations within nations. Whereas infectious diseases are the prime public health concerns in developing countries, challenges associated with aging, chronic diseases and cancer are the problems of developed countries.

Governments have been joined by a long list of organizations, activists and private donors whose contributions to improving public health are immense. The efforts invested in combating the SARS epidemic and the success to contain it, constitute a clear indication of how effective a concerted global effort can be.

The Board of the Dan David Prize has decided to award the 2009 prize for the Future Time Dimension to a person who has made a major impact towards the advancement of global public health.