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Minister congratulates winner of Crafoord Prize in Astronomy

Hon Steven Joyce
Minister of Science and Innovation

27 May 2016

Media Statement

Minister congratulates winner of Crafoord Prize in Astronomy

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has congratulated Emeritus Professor Roy Kerr of the University of Canterbury on receiving the Crafoord Prize in Astronomy, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

“The strength of New Zealand’s science system and the international reputation of its scientists has been highlighted by the announcement that Professor Kerr is one of this year’s two recipients of the Crafoord Prize,” says Mr Joyce. “I am pleased to congratulate Professor Kerr on this magnificent award.”

“Professor Kerr’s development in 1963 of the exact solution to Einstein’s equations that describes rotating black holes sparked a revolution in physics.

“The recent discovery of gravitational waves, long predicted by Einstein, was made possible by Professor Kerr's solution. A signal emitted 1.3 billion years ago by the collision of two black holes in a distant galaxy was captured by astronomers. Physicists use supercomputers now to model such collisions but, without Kerr's pen and paper solution over 50 years ago, that modelling would be impossible.”

The Crafoord Prize in Astronomy is awarded every four years to worthy scientists. The prize was awarded to Professor Kerr and co-winner Professor Roger Blandford from Stanford University by His Majesty the King of Sweden overnight NZ time, on 26 May 2016.

The Crafoord Prize

The Crafoord Prize is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences annually according to a rotating scheme. The total amount of SEK 6 million makes the Crafoord Prize one of the world´s richest scientific prizes awarded.

Anna-Greta and Holger Crafoord´s Fund was established in 1980 and the first prize was awarded in 1982. The prize is intended to promote international basic research in the following disciplines:

• Astronomy and Mathematics
• Geosciences
• Biosciences, with particular emphasis on ecology
• Polyarthritis (rheumatoid arthritis)

These disciplines are chosen to complement those for which the Nobel Prizes are awarded. The prizes are awarded in set rotational timing:

• Year 1 Astronomy and Mathematics
• Year 2 Geosciences
• Year 3 Biosciences
• Year 4 Polyarthritis


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