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November 24, 2010

Newman wins Einstein Prize

NewmanThe American Physical Society has awarded Ezra T. Newman, professor emeritus of physics and astronomy, the 2011 Einstein Prize for his part in devising the Newman-Penrose formalism, an extension of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, as well as for composing a variety of solutions to Einstein’s equations, particularly the Kerr-Newman black hole.

The prize also recognizes Newman’s lifetime of work at the forefront of general relativity and commends his ongoing work to explain the significance of far-flung light energy.

The biennial Einstein prize, first awarded in 2003, carries a $10,000 award.

In 1962, six years after Newman joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy, he and University of Oxford professor Roger Penrose developed the Newman-Penrose formalism, one of the most-cited sets of equations in relativity. In a nutshell, the formalism is an alternative method for describing Einstein’s equations that replaces Einstein’s own version.

Newman also is credited with reshaping the theory of general relativity by working out one of the most influential reformulations of the original theory, among other lasting solutions and insights to the Einstein equations.

The significance of the Newman-Penrose formalism is that it allows for special conditions to be imposed before one attempts to solve an equation, conditions for which Einstein’s original theory does not allow. Instead of using the four standard space-time coordinates, the Newman-Penrose equations use four different vectors to describe the geometric constructions of the theory that arise from massive objects in motion.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 43 Issue 7

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