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Winner of inaugural Physics Journalism Prize announced

Institute of Physics press release PR14(13)

Thursday 28 February 2013

Winner of inaugural Physics Journalism Prize announced

Anil Ananthaswamy has won the inaugural Physics Journalism Prize – a prize designed to inspire the next generation of physicists by encouraging journalists to grapple with often complex topics and help spread excitement about the subject.

Anil has won the prize for his article Hip Hip Array, which focuses on the Square Kilometre Array, an international project to design and build the largest radio telescope ever conceived.

The prize is sponsored by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).  

Anil, a consultant at New Scientist Magazine and author of The Edge of Physics, will be congratulated today, Thursday 28 February 2013, at an IOP reception this evening in Central London, which follows this year’s Newton Lecture by the Astronomer Royal, Lord Rees of Ludlow, entitled From Mars to the Multiverse. 

Professor Sir Peter Knight, President of IOP, said, “Anil Ananthaswamy is being awarded the prize for writing a feature which brings one of the world’s most exciting astronomical endeavours to life – the Square Kilometre Array. 

“I’m delighted that we’re able to honour his writing on this occasion, shortly after we hear from one of the UK’s leading astronomical luminaries.”

The Physics Journalism Award offers the prize of an expenses paid trip to Japan, to visit world-leading facilities carrying out research at the frontiers of physics. 

On winning, Anil commented, "Writing about physics, especially about the work being done in remote, difficult and sometimes hostile environments, is a special pleasure. Winning an award for doing what I love to do is just icing on the cake. I truly appreciate the recognition."

With Anil the overall winner, judges were impressed by the range of entries made to the Award.

Zeeya Merali, a freelance science journalist based in Canterbury, has been given a special mention and a £250 prize for her Discover article, Gravity Off the Grid; an article about Julian Barbour, a British physicist who has spent his life arguing against Einstein’s view of gravity, space and time.

The judges – who were the Association of British Science Writers’ (ABSW) Martin Ince, the Wellcome Trust’s Mark Henderson, STEMNET’s Kirsten Bodley and the Science Media Centre’s Ed Sykes - commended both of the journalists for style, their ability to inspire and for bringing the physics that they write about to life.

ABSW director Martin Ince said, “The judges awarded the first prize and the commendation to two very different, but equally compelling, pieces of writing about physics.  Both will have inspired and intrigued readers in the UK and around the world.  The entries we received show that British science journalists can take on some of the most complex subjects in the universe and bring them to a wide audience.”

Mark Henderson, Head of Communications at the Wellcome Trust and former Science Editor at The Times, said, "This was a strong field, but the winning and commended entries stood out both for style and substance. Zeeya Merali crafts great metaphors that help to make complicated science comprehensible for non-specialist audiences, while Anil Ananthaswamy has an eye for illustrative detail of which the best travel writers would be proud.”

Kirsten Bodley, Chief Executive of STEMNET, said, “The winning article on the competition for the Square Kilometre Array will be particularly inspirational to young people, offering them an opportunity to see how fascinating contemporary physics research can be.  This is close to STEMNET’s heart – it’s important to make science accessible and interesting for young people, to inspire the next generation of great British scientists and engineers.”

Commenting on the winner’s choice of topic, Terry O’Connor, Head of Communications at STFC, added, “The Square Kilometre Array will be one of the world’s largest and most complex science experiments, requiring physics input across the disciplines and at every stage of its design, construction and operation. It will open new avenues of research, and delve further back into the formation of the universe.  

“With the SKA Project Office located in the UK at Jodrell Bank, and UK researchers and government heavily involved at every stage, we’re delighted that the winning article highlighted this fascinating and ambitious project.”  

Anil’s article can be read on newscientist.com, free of charge but after a short registration, at http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21328576.800-outback-to-outer-space-the-worlds-largest-telescope.html

Zeeya’s article can be read on discovermagazine.com, free of charge athttp://discovermagazine.com/2012/mar/09-is-einsteins-greatest-work-wrong-didnt-go-far 

Notes to Editors

1.  ContactFor further information, please contact IOP’s Head of Media, Joe WintersTel: 020 7470 4815Mob: 07946 321473E-mail: joseph.winters@iop.org 

2. IOP-STFC Physics Journalism AwardTo revisit the Terms and Conditions of the Award, please go to http://www.stfc.ac.uk/News%20and%20Events/39891.aspx 

3. The Institute of PhysicsThe Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of more than 45,000, working together to advance physics education, research and application.

We engage with policymakers and the general public to develop awareness and understanding of the value of physics and, through IOP Publishing, we are world leaders in professional scientific communications. Visit us at www.iop.org

4. The Science and Technology Facilities CouncilThe Science and Technology Facilities Council is keeping the UK at the forefront of international science and tackling some of the most significant challenges facing society such as meeting our future energy needs, monitoring and understanding climate change, and global security.

The Council has a broad science portfolio and works with the academic and industrial communities to share its expertise in materials science, space and ground-based astronomy technologies, laser science, microelectronics, wafer scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar.STFC operates or hosts world class experimental facilities including:

•           in the UK; ISIS pulsed neutron source, the Central Laser Facility, and LOFAR. STFC is also the majority shareholder in Diamond Light Source Ltd

•           overseas; telescopes on La Palma and Hawaii 

It enables UK researchers to access leading international science facilities by funding membership of international bodies including European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO). 

STFC is one of seven publicly-funded research councils. It is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).Follow us on Twitter @STFC_Matterswww.stfc.ac.uk 

5. Association of British Science WritersFounded in 1947, the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) is the professional organisation for science writers in the UK. Its 800 members write everything from news stories to books and TV programmes. It runs the UK’s science journalism awards, holds the UK Conference of Science Journalists, and helps entrants to the profession to expand their skills. It is a leading member of the World Federation of Science Journalists and is involved in promoting science journalism in the developing world. More at http://www.absw.org.uk/.  

Joe Winters, Head of Media Institute of Physics

76 Portland Place

London W1B 1NT

E-mail: joseph.winters@iop.org

Direct tel: +44 (0) 20 7470 4815

Mobile: +44 (0) 7946 321473

www.iop.org

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