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(Boston, Mass.) — H. Eugene Stanley, a professor of physics at Boston University and director of its Center for Polymer Studies, has been named to receive the 2004 Boltzmann Award. This award, presented every three years by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) Commission on Statistical Physics, honors outstanding achievement in the subfield of physics known as statistical physics. The award presentation will take place during the Commission’s upcoming international meeting, Statphys 22, to be held in Bangalore, India, July 4–9.
In submitting his nomination to the Commission, the signatories — a group that included five recipients of the Nobel Prize — characterized the research papers produced during Stanley’s nearly four decades of scientific endeavor as innovative and original, noting that many of the papers had “an outstanding impact, some of them even in scientific disciplines outside of physics.”
Further indication of the significance of his research can be found in the citational record, the tallying of instances in which a researcher’s work is cited in research papers by other scientists throughout the world. Stanley consistently appears on the list of the world’s most cited physicists, according to the Institute of Scientific Information, the group that tracks this information.
Stanley’s research into physical phenomena has led to contributions to the understanding of disordered systems, aggregation, phase transitions, branched polymers, gels, granular matter, percolation, and the structure of liquid water. This work has produced new theories, such as that explaining the spontaneous self-stratification of granular mixtures, and new models, such as his percolation model for water, which links the degree to which changes in the physical characteristics of liquid water result from local changes in its physical structure.
In addition to his contributions to physics, Stanley’s research has made a significant mark on other fields. Stanley has applied statistical physics to questions as diverse as heart-rate fluctuations, the nature of Alzheimer’s disease, and distinguishing coding and junk DNA. Recent work has produced statistical models of how stock market fluctuations mimic those found in physical phenomena such as earthquakes and how any sort of network — from hydrogen-bond networks in water to terrorist networks — can function or can break down.
The Boltzmann Award is named in honor of the inventor of statistical mechanics, Ludwig Boltzmann, an Austrian physicist who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Statistical mechanics applies the mathematical and statistical tools for dealing with large populations to the field of mechanics, the study of the motion of particles or objects when subjected to a force.
The mandates of the IUPAP Commission on Statistical Physics include promoting the exchange of information among members of the international scientific community in the general field of statistical physics and recognizing excellence in the field, exemplified by the Boltzmann Medal, presented to those named for the Boltzmann Award. In addition to Stanley, the Commission will confer a 2004 Boltzmann Medal to Rockefeller University’s E. G. D. Cohen.
The Physics Department at Boston University, part of the College of Arts and Sciences, provides opportunities for research in experimental high-energy physics and astrophysics, experimental medium-energy physics, experimental condensed-matter physics and polymer physics, molecular biophysics, theoretical high-energy particle physics and cosmology, and theoretical condensed-matter physics, polymer physics, and statistical mechanics.
Scientists at the University’s Center for Polymer Studies research polymer systems at the microscopic level, focusing on describing the basic spatial configurations of polymer molecules so as to better predict the macroscopic behavior of polymers. Boston University, with an enrollment of more than 29,000 in its 17 schools and colleges, is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States.