Lancaster University

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Early Universe research wins prize

07/05/2012 00:00:00
A Lancaster University physicist has won the Hoyle medal and prize for his contributions to particle cosmology.

Professor David Lyth was awarded the prize by the Institute of Physics on July 2 for his work on the origin of the structure of the Universe. The Hoyle Medal and Prize is awarded for distinguished research in astrophysics, gravitational physics or cosmology.

One of the central planks of modern cosmology is the theory of inflation – the idea that after the big bang the Universe went through a period of rapid expansion during its earliest stages. This theory has played an important role in providing a possible explanation for the origin of structures in the Universe, such as galaxies, galaxy clusters and cosmic microwave background anisotropy –  this means that the intensity of cosmic microwave background radiation differs slightly depending on the angle of its observation.

Professor Lyth has been responsible for many of the key advances in the theory of inflation, and has devised many of the analytical tools that are now widely used by the theoretical cosmology community.

The citation for his award said: “His work is always characterised by an incisive clarity. Although mathematically sophisticated, it always maintains contact with observation... While much work on inflation has been purely phenomenological, David has linked cosmology with fundamental physics, particularly extensions of the Standard Model.”