CRM-CAP Prize 1995

The Centre de recherches mathématiques and the Canadian Association of Physicists jointly created this year the CAP/CRM Medal for outstanding achievement in theoretical and mathematical physics. The first Medal was presented at the 1995 CAP Annual Congress to Professor Werner Israel of the University of Alberta. In presenting the Medal to his thesis advisor, mentor, and friend, Dr. Eric Poisson had the following to say regarding Dr. Israel: "Werner was born in Berlin in the early nineteen thirties. Soon after, he and his family moved to Cape Town, South Africa. There he stayed until he moved to Dublin, Ireland, to pursue a graduate degree. Werner obtained his doctorate from Trinity College in 1960. In Dublin, Werner met and married Inge, and the two of them came to live in Edmonton. Werner joined the University of Alberta as an Assistant Professor in 1958, and there he remained to this day. Werner's field of research is general relativity, most especially black holes. His contributions to this field are numerous and far reaching; throughout his career his role has been that of a leader. In the late nineteen sixties, Werner formulated a theorem which took everybody working in the field by surprise. Werner showed that nonrotating black holes in isolation must be spherically symmetric, no matter how aspherical the collapsing star initially was. The star could be a cube, and the resulting black hole would still be spherical! This theory created a lot of excitement in the field, and over a period of several years, it was generalized (by Werner as well as other workers) to the case of charged and rotating black holes. This result, now known as the no-hair theorem for black holes, is one of the most powerful and beautiful achievements of gravitation theory. Most recently, Werner's scientific focus has been on the internal constitution of black holes. His work establishes that the singularity of an aging black hole is lightlike (as opposed to spacelike), and far more ordered than was initially expected. Werner's work combines deep physical significance with elegant mathematical formulation. Moreover, the vast majority of his work has been original and innovative, which establishes Werner as one of the true leaders in the field of general relativity. In his letter of support for this Prize, Kip S. Thorne writes: With two exceptions (Stephen Hawking of Cambridge University and Roger Penrose of Oxford University), nobody has contributed more than Werner Israel to our understanding of gravitational theory, during the past three decades."