String theory work wins $3 million prize

March 21, 2013 at 7:34 PM

GENEVA, Switzerland, March 21 (UPI) -- A Princeton University physicist's work on string theory has won a $3 million prize set up to award work in fundamental physics, organizers in Switzerland said.

At a ceremony at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland, Alexander Polyakov was awarded the 2013 Fundamental Physics prize for his contributions to quantum field theory and string theory, reported Thursday.

The Fundamental Physics prize was started by billionaire Russian Internet investor Yuri Milner in July 2012 to highlight theoretical advancements in physics that don't lend themselves to experimental testing and thus are not likely to be considered for a Nobel prize.

"Fundamental physics underlies almost every aspect of modern life, but does not get the recognition it deserves," CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer said at the ceremony honoring Polyakov.

Two special Fundamental Physics prizes were awarded in December to Stephen Hawking for his voluminous work on black holes, and to the leaders of the teams at CERN that discovered the Higgs boson.

Polyakov's work focused on magnetic monopoles, hypothetical particles that would act like magnets with only one magnetic pole. Research suggests if they exist they are so rare they may never be found, but the search for them could lead to a better understanding of the basic forces in the universe, prize organizers said.

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