Balzan Prizes 2023 for Max Planck researchers

Jean-Jacques Hublin and Heino Falcke are among the four winners of the prestigious prize

September 14, 2023

Jean-Jacques Hublin, Director Emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, will be awarded the Balzan Prize 2023 for "Evolution of Humankind: Palaeoanthropology". In addition, astrophysicist Heino Falcke, visiting scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn and professor of astrophysics and radio astronomy at Radboud University in the Netherlands, will receive the Balzan Prize 2023 for "High-resolution images from planetary bodies to cosmic objects". The prize is endowed with 784,000 euros each, half of which must be used by the prize winners to fund research projects by young researchers.

Hublin's discoveries, especially the finding of remains of the oldest Homo sapiens to date in Africa, have contributed significantly to the study of human evolution. In addition, his ability to bring together findings from different cutting-edge technologies was highlighted. The award also recognises his talent for organising scientific teams and his qualities as a teacher and science communicator.

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Heino Falcke is being honoured for his fundamental research work that makes it possible to visualise the environment of a black hole with high precision. He was also instrumental in the development of the "Event Horizon Telescope". It provides the most accurate images to date of these celestial bodies in our own galaxy, the Milky Way, but also in distant galaxies such as M87. This has made it possible to confirm Einstein's general theory of relativity in situations where gravity is so strong that the space-time relationship is significantly curved, and to prove the existence of supermassive black holes.

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