# The 2008 Crafoord prize goes to mathematics and astronomy

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards each year’s Crafoord prize. It complements the Nobel Prize in various fields. This year, mathematics and astrophysics are in the spotlight with Maxim Kontsevich, Edward Witten and Rashid Sunyaev Alievich.

It is well known that the Nobel prize does no work in mathematics, astronomy and geology. To remedy this anomaly Holger Crafoord (1908-1982), a Swedish economist and industry which was indirectly led to the invention of artificial kidney (1964), decided in 1980 with his wife, Anna-Greta , To establish the price that bears his name and who, in addition to a gold medal, has a sum of 500,000 dollars.

By rotation, the prize is awarded annually to researchers had shown in geosciences, biosciences, mathematics, astronomy and for work on polyarthritis.

The French Alain Connes and Claude Allegre, for example, have received respectively in 2001 and 1986, but can also include one of the winners 2002, geophysicist Dan Mackenzie, one of the major contributors to the theory of plate tectonics, and astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer, who is the Hubble telescope.

This year’s prize goes to a mathematician, a theoretical physicist and an astrophysicist.

Maxim Kontsevitch, the surveyor

It is a brilliant mathematician of Russian origin and born in 1964 in Kmimki. Currently a professor at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (IHES) in Bures-sur-Yvette (near Paris), he had already received the Fields Medal in mathematics. Its work focuses on geometric aspects of quantum field theory and string theory. He thus established profound results in conjunction with groups quantum theory of full Feynman theory and topological field.

Edward Witten, extraterrestrial

Edward Witten (born July 26, 1951, the Baltimore USA) has the legendary reputation of being an alien whose intelligence surpasserait that Einstein and pose as an equal Newton. Although it is one of theoretical physicists the most influential of the last twenty years, his work on quantum theory of fields and supersymmetric string theory earned him the Fields Medal in mathematics, because of new mathematical tools that he discovered in these disciplines and it has applied successfully in the field of topology.

Edward Witten, a young, the Institute of Abdus Salam in Trieste in Italy. Credit: ICTP

These achievements are all the more staggering that Witten initially wanted to become a political journalist and that only after having obtained a university degree in history, and have completed one semester during a sector of economy with a strong mathematical , He moved permanently to theoretical physics.

Sidérant his classmates at Princeton, he quickly mastered the quantum field theory as he had not really followed prior courses in physics. He finally won a doctorate in 1976 under the direction of future Nobel laureate David Gross, taken aback by its ability to fix almost without calculations problems in advanced quantum field theory and **elementary** particles.