Balzan Prizes 2013 Awarded in Berne

The Balzan Prizes 2013 were presented today, November 15, by the Federal Councillor Alain Berset in Berne...

750,000 Swiss Francs (approx. €610,000, $800,000) for each of the four subjects. Half of the amount must be destined by the winners to research projects

Berne,15 November 2013 - The Balzan Prizes 2013 were presented today, November 15, by the Federal Councillor Alain Berset, during the Award Ceremony at the Federal Palace in Berne, to  

Alain Aspect (France), École Polytechnique, Palaiseau, for Quantum Information Processing and Communication
Manuel Castells (USA/Catalonia), University of Southern California, for Sociology
Pascale Cossart (France), Institut Pasteur, Paris, for Infectious diseases: basic and clinical aspects
André Vauchez (France), Université de Paris Ouest Nanterre, for Medieval History.

The ceremony took place in the presence of the Vice-Chairman of the Balzan Foundation "Prize", Enrico Decleva, and of the Chairman of the Balzan Foundation "Fund", Achille Casanova. In accordance with the ceremony’s usual formalities, each Prizewinner, introduced in turn by Salvatore Veca, Chairman of the General Prize Committee, gave a speech of acceptance and thanks.
 According to established tradition reflecting the Italo-Swiss nature of the International Balzan Foundation, the Award Ceremony takes place in alternate years in Rome, in the presence of the President of the Italian Republic, and in Bern, in the presence of a Representative of the Federal Council of the Swiss Confederation..

The Balzan Prize was given to Alain Aspect for his pioneering experiments which led to a striking confirmation of Quantum Mechanics as opposed to local hidden-variable theories. His work opened the way to the experimental control of entangled quantum states, the essential element of Quantum Information Processing.
Manuel Castells received the Balzan Prize for his wide-ranging and imaginative thinking through of the implications of the great technological changes of our time: the digital revolution and the profound social and political challenges brought about by the emerging technologies of communication and information processing associated with computing, microelectronics and the internet. And for having proposed a general theory of the new global information society that has arisen out of these techniques.
Pascale Cossart was recognized for her seminal discoveries on the molecular biology of pathogenic bacteria and their interaction with host cells. Her research has provided very significant insights into the mechanisms underlying infectious diseases and how they might be combatted.
The Prize went to André Vauchez for his groundbreaking studies on medieval spirituality in Western Christianity and its central role in everyday life in the Middle Ages, for his research on the medieval conception of holiness and on the sacralization of space and time, for his contributions to research on monastic and women’s piety, for his all-encompassing knowledge and masterly presentation of the life, work and influence of St. Francis of Assisi.

The International Balzan Foundation awarded 750,000 Swiss Francs (approx. €610,000, $800,000) for each 2013 prize, a figure which places the Balzan Prize amongst the biggest prize funds in the world of Science and Culture. The winners are each required to allocate half of their prize money to funding research projects carried out preferably by young scholars or scientists in their respective fields.   

The Ceremony was preceded, on Thursday 14 November, by the Balzan Prizewinners Interdisciplinary Forum, which took place in  the Swiss National Foundation for Scientific Research. The Forum was a public event dedicated to the Balzan Prize subject areas for 2013 with the four Prizewinners playing a prominent role with Members of the Balzan General Prize Committee and Members of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences

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