[ASC-media] International Astronomical Union General Assembly - opening and p rize award, Tuesday 15 July

Helen.Sim at csiro.au Helen.Sim at csiro.au
Fri Jul 11 12:13:15 EST 2003

Helen Sim +61-419-635-905
Helen.Sim at csiro.au

International astronomy conference opens Tuesday 15 July in Sydney

$US 150 000 award to be presented at opening ceremony

Two thousand astronomers from 65 countries will converge on the Darling
Harbour Convention Centre in Sydney next week for the 25th triennial General
Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

The meeting kicks off on Sunday 13 July and runs for two weeks. 

It will be officially opened at the Sydney Opera House at 6 pm on Tuesday 15
July (local time) by Federal Minister for Science Dr Brendan Nelson, with a
video address by Prime Minister John Howard. 

During the ceremony one of the world's most distinguished astrophysicists,
Professor Rashid Sunyaev, Director of the Max-Planck-Institut fuer
Astrophysik in Germany, will receive the Cosmology Prize of the Peter Gruber
Foundation. Worth US$150 000, this is one of the premier international
prizes in astronomy.

Dr Sunyaev is a pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy. He was chosen for
the award by an international panel of experts for his pioneering studies on
the nature of the cosmic microwave background and its interaction with
intervening matter.

Professor Sunyaev "has one of the most fertile minds in astrophysics today",
said Professor Robert Williams, Distinguished Research Scholar at the Space
Telescope Science Institute in the US and a member of the advisory board
that selected Professor Sunyaev for the Cosmology Prize.

"Professor Sunyaev was one of the first scientists to point out the
importance of measuring fluctuations in the relic Big Bang radiation as a
means of determining fundamental characteristics of the Universe," he said.

Held every three years, the General Assembly is one of the largest and most
diverse astronomy meetings. It has been held only once before in Sydney, in
1973. The meeting will cover virtually every topic in astronomy, including:

*	The big picture of the Universe: what we know now - and Australia's
role in working it out
*	How black holes grow
*	The 'dark energy' that powers the expansion of the Universe
*	Using lasers to communicate with spacecraft - and what that might
mean for astronomy
*	Astronomy in Antarctica
*	How Australia pioneered radio astronomy
*	What's special about stars that have planets

... and much more.

Running alongside the General Assembly is the Australian Festival of
Astronomy, a program of entertainment and activities running throughout
July. This will include the public exhibition ASTROEXPO and a series of
informative talks by the world's leading astronomy experts. For more
information, see http://www.astronomyfestival.com/about/ .

The International Astronomical Union 25th General Assembly is sponsored by
the Astronomical Society of Australia, Connell Wagner, CSIRO, the Department
of Education Science and Training, and the Department of Industry, Tourism
and Resources. The meeting's opening ceremony is sponsored by the Peter
Gruber Foundation.

Helen Sim +61-419-635-905, Helen.Sim at csiro.au

Professor Sunyaev will be available for interview at the Sydney Opera House
on Tuesday 15 July during 5-6 p.m.

Also available will be:
*	Patricia Murphy Gruber, President of the Peter Gruber Foundation,
*	Professor Franco Pacini, President of the International Astronomical

Enquiries: Helen Sim +61-419-635-905, Helen.Sim at csiro.au

The ceremony begins at 6 pm in the Concert Hall. Media may attend the
pre-ceremony reception from 5-6 pm by prior arrangement only. Enquiries:
Helen Sim +61-419-635-905, Helen.Sim at csiro.au

A feed will be available from an OB van at the Opera House by prior
arrangement. TV crews will NOT be permitted to film in the Concert Hall
during the ceremony. Enquiries: Mark Wallage 0418-476-518

Copies of the Prime Minister's video address will be available at the
Enquiries: Mark Wallage 0418-476-518

Photographs of Professor Sunyaev may be downloaded from

*	Full details of the meeting: www.astronomy2003.com .
*	Simplified program: http://www.pressroom.astronomy2003.com/program/
*	Abstracts of symposia talks:
http://www.pressroom.astronomy2003.com/abstracts/ .

Sunyaev's contributions have been wide-ranging.  He co-authored a series of
landmark papers that laid the foundations for understanding fluctuations in
microwave background radiation and thus advanced ongoing studies about the
conditions in the early universe. Together with Yakov B. Zeldovich, he was
the first to describe the apparent cooling of radiation as it passes through
hot gas, a process now known as the Sunyaev-Zeldovich Effect.

Born in 1943 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Sunyaev was educated at the Moscow
Institute of Physics and Technology and Moscow University.  He worked at the
Institute of Applied Mathematics in the Soviet Union and was head of the
High Energy Astrophysics Department at the Space Research Institute at the
Russian Academy of Sciences.  Since 1996, he has been a director of the
Max-Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany.  

The Peter Gruber Foundation was founded in 1993 and established a record of
charitable giving, principally in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where it is
located.  In recent years the Foundation has expanded its focus to a series
of international awards recognizing discoveries and achievements that
produce fundamental shifts in human knowledge and culture. Further
information about the Peter Gruber Foundation and its awards is available
from www.petergruberfoundation.org .

The Peter Gruber Foundation awards annual prizes in three areas: cosmology,
genetics, and justice.  A fourth prize category, women's rights, will begin
this year.  Each prize winner receives a gold medal and an unrestricted
US$150,000 cash award.  The purpose of the awards is to recognize, honor,
and encourage the best in each discipline.  

The Cosmology Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation is one of the premier
international prizes in the field.  Last year's prizewinner was Dr. Vera
Rubin, an observational astronomer known for her study of how galaxies
revolve within dark matter.  The recipient in 2001 was Sir Martin Rees, the
Astronomer Royal of the United Kingdom and Royal Society Research Professor
at Cambridge University. Recipients of the Cosmology Prize in 2000 were
Allan R. Sandage, Staff Astronomer Emeritus, The Observatories (Pasadena,
California) Carnegie Institution of Washington, and Phillip J.E. Peebles,
the Albert Einstein Professor of Physics at Princeton University.

Founded in 1919, the International Astronomical Union is the world's largest
professional body for astronomers, with more than 8000 members. The IAU
General Assembly is held every three years and is one of the largest and
most diverse meetings on the astronomical community's calendar. More
information about the IAU can be found at www.iau.org .

Helen Sim
Public Relations and Media Liaison
CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility (email: Helen.Sim at csiro.au)
Anglo-Australian Observatory (email: hsim at aaoepp.aao.gov.au)

National Organising Committee, IAU 25th General Assembly

Tel: +61-2-9372-4251
Mob: +61-419-635-905

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