The Balzan prize, worth 1,000,000 Swiss Francs, was just awarded to Andrew Lange and Paolo de Bernardis for their work as the original Principal Investigators of Boomerang, which, in 2000, produced the first high-resolution maps of the Cosmic Microwave Background and allowed a definitive measurement of the curvature of the Universe, in the sense of Einstein’s General Relativity. In fact, Boomerang showed that the Universe is flat: parallel lines don’t ever cross, and triangles have 180 degrees. I am lucky enough to be part of the Boomerang team, and I remember being interviewed on Irish radio at the time of our first results, and explaining to a puzzled newscaster that, no, we didn’t contradict Einstein: a flat Universe was just one of the particular kinds of curvature allowed by Relativity. Since then, Boomerang has refined its measurements of the cosmological parameters and, most recently, measured the CMB’s polarization (as I discussed about a year ago, and are summarized in this week’s Science).
Congratulations to Andrew and Paolo and the rest of the team.