University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

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UWM researchers win prestigious Gravitation Award

110520_med UWM Professor Leonard Parker and former Research Associate Iván Agulló have received the prestigious First Award in the Gravity Essay competition from the Gravity Research Foundation (GRF).

The winning essay is "Stimulated Creation of Quanta during Inflation and the Observable Universe". The work, developed while Agulló was at UWM, describes how the generation of primordial inhomogeneities during inflation can be understood via the spontaneous and stimulated creation of particles from the vacuum. The study of these inhomogeneities in the cosmic microwave background can tell us about the state of the universe at the onset of inflation, when quantum field theory in curved spacetime first emerges as a plausible effective theory.

The GRF Essay Competition First Awards have been obtained by renowned scientists in the field such as Bryce DeWitt (1953), Stephen Hawking (1971), Roger Penrose (1975), Abhay Ashtekar (1977) and George Smoot (1993). It is not the first time that UWM researchers receive this prestigious Award. In 1990 Professor Bruce Allen was also awarded the 1st Prize.

Leonard Parker is a Distinguished Professor (Emeritus) in the Physics Department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a founding member of the UWM Center for Gravitation and Cosmology. In the 1960s he was the first to use quantum field theory to show that the gravitational field of the expanding universe creates elementary particles from the vacuum. In 1984, based on this work, he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Parker (with co-author D. J. Toms) has recently released the book "Quantum Field Theory in Curved Spacetime" published by Cambridge University Press.

Iván Agulló is currently a Research Associate at Penn State University, where he works with Abhay Ashtekar. Previously he was a postdoc at UWM Center for Gravitation and Cosmology, where he worked with Leonard Parker. He received his PhD at the University of Valencia (Spain) and he is the first Spanish physicist to receive the GRF Essay Competition First Award.

More information at the Gravity Research Foundation