Abel Prize for maths awarded to woman for first time

This handout photo taken on March 18, 2019 in Princeton, New Jersey and released on March 19, 2019 by The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters / Institute for Advanced Study shows scientist Karen Uhlenbeck. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2019

Abel Prize for maths awarded to woman for first time

  • American Karen Uhlenbeck won the Abel Prize in mathematics for her work on partial differential equations
  • Uhlenbeck, 76, is a visiting senior research scholar at Princeton University

OSLO, Norway: Women took another step forward in the still male-dominated world of science Tuesday, as American Karen Uhlenbeck won the Abel Prize in mathematics for her work on partial differential equations.
“Karen Uhlenbeck receives the Abel Prize 2019 for her fundamental work in geometric analysis and gauge theory, which has dramatically changed the mathematical landscape,” Abel Committee chairman Hans Munthe-Kaas said in a statement.
“Her theories have revolutionized our understanding of minimal surfaces, such as those formed by soap bubbles, and more general minimization problems in higher dimensions.”
She is the first woman to win the prize, which comes with a cheque for six million kroner (620,000 euros, $703,000). She is also an advocate for gender equality in science and mathematics.
“I am aware of the fact that I am a role model for young women in mathematics,” said Uhlenbeck, according to a Princeton statement.
“It’s hard to be a role model, however, because what you really need to do is show students how imperfect people can be and still succeed... I may be a wonderful mathematician and famous because of it, but I’m also very human.”
Uhlenbeck, 76, is a visiting senior research scholar at Princeton University, as well as visiting associate at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), both in the US.
The Cleveland native “developed tools and methods in global analysis, which are now in the toolbox of every geometer and analyst,” the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters said.


With the award, Uhlenbeck joined a still very small club of women who have scored a scientific prize.
Of the 607 Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry or medicine between 1901 and 2018, only 19 women were among the awardees, according to the Nobel Prize website. Marie Curie won twice, once for physics and another time for chemistry.
Only one woman has won the other major international mathematics prize — the Fields Medal — Maryam Mirzakhani of Iran in 2014. She died in 2017.
Princeton mathematician Alice Chang Sun-Yung, who is a member of the Abel committee, said “women are relative ‘newcomers” as research mathematicians, so it will take a while for us to get to the level of the ‘top prize winners.’“
“There needs to be some ‘critical mass,’ not a just few truly outstanding exceptional individuals for the math community to recognize and accept women as equally talented (in math) as men,” she told AFP.
“But change is coming and is in the air,” she added, pointing to wins by Uhlenbeck and Claire Voisin, who won the Shaw Prize in science in 2017.
Named after the 19th century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel, the prize was established by the Oslo government in 2002 and first awarded a year later, to honor outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics, a discipline not included among the Nobel awards.
Along with the Fields Medal, which is awarded every four years at the Congress of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), it is one of the world’s most prestigious maths prizes.
burs-cat/oh/ska


Paris Louvre museum reopens Monday after crippling losses

Updated 04 July 2020

Paris Louvre museum reopens Monday after crippling losses

  • The Louvre in Paris has been closed since March 13
  • Among more than 10 million visitors in 2018, almost three-quarters were tourists

PARIS: The Louvre in Paris, the world’s most visited museum and home to the Mona Lisa, reopens on Monday but with coronavirus restrictions in place and parts of the complex closed to visitors.
The Louvre has been closed since March 13 and this has already led “to losses of over 40 million euros,” its director Jean-Luc Martinez said.
Among more than 10 million visitors in 2018, almost three-quarters were tourists.
“We have lost 80 percent of our public. Seventy-five percent of our visitors were foreigners,” Martinez said.
“We will at best see 20 to 30 percent of our numbers recorded last summer — between 4,000 and 10,000 visitors daily at the most,” he said.
Visitors will have to wear masks, there will be no snacks or cloakrooms available and the public will have to follow a guided path through the museum.
Positions have been marked in front of the Mona Lisa — where tourists routinely pose for selfies — to ensure social distancing.
France contributes $112 million to the Louvre’s $222.5 million annual budget and the museum must make up the rest, according to experts.
Seventy percent of the museum’s public areas — or 45,000 square meters (about 485,000 square feet) — will be open to the public.
After the success of its blockbuster Leonardo exhibition which closed earlier this year, the Louvre said its two exhibitions scheduled for spring and then postponed would now take place in the autumn.
These are on Italian sculpture from Donatello to Michelangelo and the renaissance German master Albrecht Altdorfer.
The Louvre has upped its virtual presence during the lockdown and said it was now the most followed museum in the world on Instagram with over four million followers.
Martinez is planning a revamp of the museum ahead of 2024, when Paris hosts the Olympic Games.