INFN Galileo Galilei Prize
In Florence, at Villa Galileo, the Galileo Galilei Medal 2021 was awarded to Alessandra Buonanno, Thibault Damour, and Frans Pretorius.
The Galileo Galilei Prize is an international prize established in 2018, which is awarded every two years by the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), the Galileo Galilei Institute, its National Center for Advanced Studies, in partnership with the University of Florence, to researchers who have made outstanding and seminal contributions to the advancement of research in theoretical physics.
On April 22, in Florence at Villa Galileo, the historic residence where the great scientist spent the last part of his life, the physicists Alessandra Buonanno, Thibault Damour, and Frans Pretorius received the Galileo Galilei Medal 2021.
Alessandra Buonanno, Thibault Damour, and Frans Pretorius received the prize “for the fundamental understanding of sources of gravitational radiation by complementary analytic and numerical techniques, enabling predictions that have been confirmed by gravitational wave observations and are now key tools in this new branch of astronomy”, as announced on 15 February 2021, on Galileo Galilei’s birthday.
Professors Buonanno and Damour, and professor Pretorius proposed two complementary approaches, analytical and numerical, to describe the behaviour of two black holes spiralling around each other until they collide. Their description was used for the analysis of experimental data that, in 2015, led the LIGO and VIRGO scientific collaborations to the observation of the first gravitational waves emitted by the collision of two black holes. The theoretical studies of Buonanno, Damour, and Pretorius were therefore fundamental for the start of a new era of gravitational astronomy.