How Old is the Universe? Local Astrophysicist Could Tell You.

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Presumably, all astrophysicists are smart. But some, it turns out, are smarter — or at least more award-winning — than others. Take Hopkins professor Charles Bennett, for example.  Last summer, Bennett shared the $1 million Shaw prize in astronomy with two colleagues from Princeton.

Bennett works on the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, which measures cosmic background radiation. In other words, Bennett’s research has “helped determine the precise age, composition and curvature of the universe.” (It is 13.7 billion years old, and made up of approximately 5% atoms, 25% dark matter, 70% dark energy. I couldn’t find any explanation of the curvature that made any sense to me; apologies.)

One other Hopkins prof has won the award since it was established in 2002; Adam Riess was named a co-winner in 2006 because he discovered dark energy. As of this year, 43 individuals have shared 25 Shaw awards. None of them have been women.



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