Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Mr Himanshu Jain
Mr Himanshu Jain, who first compared the fluctuations of atoms and of jellyfish, has received the world's top prize for glass science research.The scientist compared the movements of atoms in glass to the wiggling of jellyfish in water.Mr Jain, director at the International Materials Institute for New Functionalities in Glass at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, in neighbouring Pennsylvania, received the Otto Schott Research Award on July 2, at the International Congress on Glass in Strasbourg, France.The biennial award, which carries a cash prize of 25,000 euros, is the most valuable prize for glass research. Mr Jain, a professor of materials science and engineering at Lehigh, is sharing the award with Walter Kob of the University of Montpellier in France.The award has been presented since 1991, biennially and alternating with the Carl Zeiss Research Award, to recognize excellent scientific research and to encourage cooperation between science and industry. Both awards are administered by the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Science in Germany.The award is named after Friedrich Otto Schott (1851-1935), a German chemist who invented borosilicate glass, which is known for its high tolerance to heat, chemicals and sudden temperature changes.Mr Jain was taking a boat ride to the Isle of Skye off Scotland's west coast 20 years ago, when he first conceived of the connection between jellyfish and atoms in glass.Watching the hundreds of jellyfish in the Sea of the Hebrides, Mr Jain couldn't help noticing what many before had observed - that the invertebrates were not swimming but wiggling as they drifted in the water.The fluctuations of the jellyfish caused Mr Jain to wonder anew at the movements of atoms in glass. When the temperature of a glass is lowered to 4 degrees Kelvin, or near absolute zero, he says, these atomic movements slow from a lively hop to a virtual standstill.