Skip to Content
MIT News magazine

Alumnus Wins Nobel

Adam Riess ‘92 shares prize for physics
December 20, 2011

In October, Adam Riess ‘92 learned that he had won a share of the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics for his observations of distant supernovas, which helped reveal that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

Riess, now a professor of astronomy and physics at Johns Hopkins University, shared the prize with Brian Schmidt and Saul Perlmutter, who each headed research teams that presented evidence of the phenomenon in 1998. Riess was part of Schmidt’s international High-z Supernova Search Team.

For almost a century, the universe had been known to be expanding. However, the discovery that this expansion is accelerating was “astounding,” according to the Nobel committee.

Riess, Perlmutter, and Schmidt also shared the $1 million Shaw Prize in Astronomy for the discovery in 2006. Riess, who was born in Washington, D.C., earned his PhD from Harvard in 1996 and was awarded a MacArthur “genius” grant in 2008.

Riess is the 77th MIT-connected person to win a Nobel. On October 20 he gave a talk at MIT on his work—an event that had been scheduled before the prizes were announced.

“It was really exciting and a tremendous honor. It’s every student’s dream to come back to their alma mater and give a lecture to their professors, especially after winning the Nobel Prize,” he says. “That was a lot of fun.”

Keep Reading

Most Popular

It’s time to retire the term “user”

The proliferation of AI means we need a new word.

The problem with plug-in hybrids? Their drivers.

Plug-in hybrids are often sold as a transition to EVs, but new data from Europe shows we’re still underestimating the emissions they produce.

Sam Altman says helpful agents are poised to become AI’s killer function

Open AI’s CEO says we won’t need new hardware or lots more training data to get there.

An AI startup made a hyperrealistic deepfake of me that’s so good it’s scary

Synthesia's new technology is impressive but raises big questions about a world where we increasingly can’t tell what’s real.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.