Stephen Hawking Wins Huge $3 Million Physics Prize

First Posted: Dec 11, 2012 04:52 PM EST

Stephen Hawking has won the most lucrative cash prize, $3 million by the Fundamental Physics Prize for his discovery that black holes emit radiation, and his 'deep contributions' to quantum gravity and quantum aspects of the early universe.

Britain's most famous theoretical physicist, who is used to grappling with large sums, says he plans to spend his windfall on his daughter's autistic son and "maybe" buying a holiday home, according to the Independent.

An identical prize cash prize of $3 million (£1.8million) was shared between the seven scientists who led the effort to discover a Higgs-like particle at CERN's Large Hadron Collider.

The winners of the Fundamental Physics Prize were chosen by an independent committee of physicists, including Nima Arkani-Hamed, the Iranian-American physicists renowned for his work on dimensional deconstruction, and Ed Witten, the string theorist.

"No one undertakes research in physics with the intention of winning a prize. It is the joy of discovering something no one knew before," Hawking said in comments emailed to Reuters.

"Nevertheless prizes like these prizes play an important role in giving public recognition for achievement in physics. They increase the stature of physics and interest in it."

Hawking said he planned to use the money to help his daughter with her autistic son and may also buy a holiday home - "not that I take many holidays because I the enjoy my work in theoretical physics".

Meanwhile, a second $3 million prize was awarded to scientists Dr Incandela and Dr Gianotti who will share the prize with Peter Jenni, Michael Della Negra, Tejinder Singh Virdee, Guido Tonelli and Lyn Evans, who all spearheaded CERN's Higgs hunt since the project was approved in 1994. 

CERN Director General Rolf Heuer said: 'It is a great honour for the LHC's achievement to be recognised in this way.

'This prize recognizes the work of everyone who has contributed to the project over many years.

'The Fundamental Physics Prize underlines the value of fundamental physics to society, and I am delighted that the Foundation has chosen to hold its first award ceremony at CERN.'

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