Scientist becomes first Briton to win Feenberg Memorial Medal

11/08/05

A University of Manchester scientist has become the first Briton to be awarded the prestigious Eugene Feenberg Memorial Medal in Many-Body Physics.

The medal, which is widely regarded as an indicator for future Nobel Prize winners, has been jointly awarded to Professor Raymond Bishop, of the University of Manchester's School of Physics and Astronomy, and Hermann Kümmel, Professor Emeritus, Institute of Theoretical Physics of the Ruhr University of Bochum, Germany.

Established in 1983, the Medal has never before been awarded to a scientist in Great Britain. Two of the nine previous winners, Anthony J Leggett and Walter Kohn, have gone on to win Nobel Prizes, for Physics and Chemistry respectively.

Professor Bishop has been awarded the Medal for his pioneering development of the 'Coupled-Cluster Method' – a powerful theoretical technique used to understand the properties of materials in terms of their fundamental constituents.

In 1978 he published his first paper on the application of the method to the so-called electron gas, a model used to describe the properties of metals. His results for that model, which was then the best studied of all quantum many-body problems, have never been bettered. Based on that initial success he has gone on to develop the method further and to apply it equally successfully to a huge variety of other fundamental problems in many branches of physics. The method is now also very widely used by many other scientists around the world throughout the fields of chemistry, physics and materials science.

Professor Bishop said: "It is a humbling experience and indeed a very high honour to be awarded what is the premier prize in the field of many-body physics. It is also a particular pleasure to share the award with one of my dearest friends in the field, Hermann Kümmel."

He believes the method may in the future be applied, for example, to the fledgling field of quantum pharmacology, enabling new drugs to be designed solely by using such first-principles theoretical techniques as the coupled-cluster method.

Professor Bishop is cited for his "development of the coupled-cluster method toward a comprehensive ab initio approach, and innovative applications across the full spectrum of subfields of quantum many-body physics."

The award will be presented at the 13th International Conference on Recent Progress in Many-Body Theories in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 5-9 December 2005.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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