Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 September 2020

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid hails Emirati physicist for winning 'science Oscar'

Ahmed Al Mheiri wins $100,000 prize for research on black holes

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, tours the new metro link. 
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, tours the new metro link. 

An Emirati physicist has been lauded by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid after winning a prestigious scientific award.

Ahmed Al Mheiri and his team members were among the winners of a $100,000 (Dh377,000) prize presented by The Breakthrough Prize Foundation – known as the Science Oscars.

Mr Al Mheiri's four-strong group were honoured for their work on black holes and were among the winners of the foundation's New Horizon prize.

The Vice President and Ruler of Dubai praised the scientist on Twitter on Friday.

"We congratulate the son of the Emirates, physicist Ahmed Al Mheiri, for winning the prestigious New Horizon prize in Physics for his research on black holes in space," said Sheikh Mohammed.

"Ahmed is doing post-doctoral studies in the field of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University.

"An Emirati physicist we are proud of in our Arab world."

Mr Al Mheiri is the first Emirati to become a post-doctoral scholar at the institute, where renowned physicist Albert Einstein spent his last 20 years.

The Breakthrough Prize Foundation is considered one of the biggest scientific awards in the world.

The prize’s three categories include the main Breakthrough Prize of $3 million and a category dedicated to new scientists under the title New Horizons.

Black holes are places in space where the gravitational pull is so strong even light gets sucked in. His team looked at complex issues surrounding black holes such as radiation.

Mr Al Mheiri previous work's on black holes has led physicists to question our very understanding of the universe.

In 2012, he co-wrote a paper, “Black Holes: Complementary or Firewalls?” that laid out the contradictions in the foundational theories of modern physics and sparked debate among physicists.

The study explored how information gets out of a black hole, how information is connected inside and out of it and whether or not this information can be preserved.

Such mysteries drew Mr Al Mheiri to physics at a young age.

As a teenager, he discovered the strangeness of physics when reading of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. And he also spoke about how he was not a model pupil at school, and failed some of his classes, but an interest in geometry fostered a love for the logic of mathematics.

"The aspect that I liked about physics and continue to like about physics is that it’s so weird," he said in the 2017 interview with The Institute Letter, a journal at the Institute for Advanced Study. “The concepts become less strange the more you expose yourself to them. The advantage of research is that you keep finding new things to be surprised about.”

Updated: September 12, 2020 08:50 PM

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