The Abel Prize won by John Griggs Thompson and Jacques Tits

March 27, 2008

Today, the name of the winner of the 2008 Abel Prize was announced by the president of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. The winner is John Griggs Thompson (U. of Florida) and Jacques Tits (College de France). Their work is in algebra and group theory, and in particular in the classification of finite simple groups.

The Abel Prize is the mathematicians analog of the Nobel Prize. From the homepage of the Abel Fund:

“The Niels Henrik Abel Memorial Fund was established on 1 January 2002, to award the Abel Prize for outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics. The prize amount is 6 million NOK (about 750,000 Euro) and was awarded for the first time on 3 June 2003.”

The prize was first proposed to be part of the 1902 celebration of 100th anniversary of norwegian mathematician Henrik Abel’s birth; however, for various historical reasons, the prize was first to be awarded beginning in 2002, on the 200th anniversary of Abel’s birth.

The former laureates are: 2007:  S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan, (Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University). 2006:  Lennart Carleson (Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden).
2005:  Peter D. Lax (Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University). 2004:  Michael F. Atiyah (University of Edinburgh) and Isadore M. Singer (MIT). 2003:  Jean-Pierre Serre (Collège de France).

Dr. Thompson and Dr. Tits will hopefully have a nice trip to Oslo in late May, when they will receive their prizes from King Harald of Norway. Rumor has it, that Tits will buy a gift for his wife, and Thompson will pay for his familys trip to Oslo.

A good review (by Ron Solomon) of the problem of classifying simple finite groups can be found here [pdf].


The Nobel Prize in Physics 2007

October 9, 2007

And the prize goes to…. 

Albert Fert (France), and Peter Grünberg (Germany), “for the discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance” (GMR). More details about the physics of GMR over at Clifford Johnson’s blog.


Virginia Tech: Shootings

April 16, 2007

Today, at least 31 people were killed by a gunman at Virginia Tech, and many others were wounded. Originally it was thought, that only one person was dead.

Virginia Tech has closed and classes are canceled; the area is said to be secure.

These school/university shootings are just horrible. Will new gun laws be enforced by a Democratic president — Obama or Clinton?

It might be the deadliest school shooting in US history, but the story is not new; just a few of the earlier shootings in history (

Platte Canyon High School shooting (2006) — 2 dead,

Amish school shooting (2006) — 5 dead,

Rocori High School shooting (2003) — 2 dead,

Columbine High School massacre (1999) — 15 dead.

Related news at

Update: Lubos Motl has some speculations as to who the Virginia Tech gunman was. (It turned out to be student Cho Seung-hui of Virginia Tech).

“Subway Superman”

January 5, 2007

Wesley Autrey, a construction worker who rescued a student from Massachusetts from an oncoming subway train has become a national hero in the US. And his reaction?

“I’m still saying I’m not a hero … ’cause I believe all New Yorkers should get into that type of mode,” he said on CBS’ “The Early Show” on Thursday. “You should do the right thing.”


“You should do the right thing”.

And you surely did 🙂