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Nobel laureate Riess gets star treatment in Sweden


Nobel laureate Adam Riess
Adam Riess, left, receives the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics from Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf during a ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10. Photo by Lina Göransson/© The Nobel Foundation

More than two months after being named a recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, Adam Riess accepted his Nobel medal from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences during a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, on Saturday, Dec. 10.

During his time in Stockholm, Riess and his fellow laureates were treated as celebrities, as the Nobel Prizes are to Sweden what the Academy Awards are to the U.S. In addition to receiving his Nobel medal directly from the King of Sweden, Riess spent the week in true star style, being driven around in Volvo limousines, being toasted at champagne receptions, dining at the lavish Nobel banquet hosted at Stockholm City Hall (where he was seated next to The Crown Princess of Sweden), and even giving autographs and posing for photos for the clusters of star-struck Swedes who typically gather outside of the official Nobel events.

"This week has been magical, sort of like scientists' fantasy camp," Riess said. "I look forward to sharing the glow of this event with those in Baltimore when I return."

Riess was recognized by the Royal Swedish Academy on Oct. 4 for his leadership in the High-z Team's 1998 discovery that the expansion rate of the universe is accelerating, a phenomenon widely attributed to a mysterious, unexplained "dark energy" filling the universe.

"I am incredibly honored to receive this award for the discovery made with my colleagues," said Riess, 42, the Krieger-Eisenhower Professor at Johns Hopkins and a research scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Riess shares this year's prize with Saul Perlmutter, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, whose Supernova Cosmology Project team published similar results shortly after those published by Riess, and also with High-z teammate Brian Schmidt, of the Australian National University. Both teams also shared the Peter Gruber Foundation's 2007 Cosmology Prize—a gold medal and $500,000—for the discovery of dark energy, which Science magazine called "The Breakthrough Discovery of the Year" in 1998. The researchers also shared the 2006 Shaw Prize in astronomy for the same discovery.

Considered the most prestigious prize in the world, the Nobel has been awarded for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace since 1901 by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm.

Riess was the 35th person associated with Johns Hopkins as a faculty member, fellow or graduate to win a Nobel Prize. He joins three other Nobel laureates on the university's current faculty: Riccardo Giacconi, research professor of physics and astronomy, who won the physics prize in 2002; Peter Agre, 1974 School of Medicine graduate, former professor in the School of Medicine and now director of the Malaria Research Institute in the Bloomberg School of Public Health, who won the chemistry prize in 2002, and Carol Greider, professor and director of molecular biology and genetics in the School of Medicine, who won 2009's physiology or medicine prize.