French physicist wins Templeton Prize

March 16th, 2009 - 6:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, March 16 (DPA) French physicist Bernard Espagnat was awarded the prestigious Templeton Prize, worth 1 million pounds ($1.41 million), the John Templeton Foundation announced in Paris Monday.
The 87-year-old Espagnat was named the recipient of the world’s most generous individual scientific award for his work in the field of quantum mechanics, particularly for his experimental proofs on Bell inequalities.

Bell inequalities concern measurements made on pairs of particles and were derived from the original Bell’s inequality, devised by the late physicist John Bell, regarding an apparently inherent contradiction in quantum mechanics.

Espagnat is considered a visionary among physicists and has also researched the philosophical consequences of the principles of quantum mechanics, a theory of reality developed in the 20th century that has overthrown many of the assumptions of Newtonian physics.

Asked what he would do with the prize money, Espagnat told DPA that he would devote one-third of the money to support scientific research. Another third would go to charity, particularly to aid the homeless, while he will keep the remaining third for himself and his wife.

“Since my wife is handicapped, I want to use the money to enable us to stay in our home for as long as possible,” Espagnat said. “I think it will be of some help to us. At least, I hope so.”

The Templeton Prize honours a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.

It was established in 1972 by the late American-born British pioneer investor and philanthropist John Templeton, who was called “arguably the greatest global stock picker of the century” by Money magazine.

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