Canadian Association of Physicists ASSOCIATION CANADIENNE DES


2003 CAP/CRM Prize in Theoretical Physics

will be awarded to


"It is a great honor to have received the 2003 CAP-CRM Prize. I am deeply grateful to CAP and CRM for their recognition of my work, as well as to my colleagues at UBC for their nomination."

Dr. Matthew ChoptuikOttawa, March 10, 2003 - The Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) is pleased to announce that the 2003 CAP/CRM Prize in Theoretical Physics is being awarded to Dr. Matthew Choptuik of the University of British Columbia for his outstanding contributions to Numerical General Relativity.

Matt Choptuik, arguably the world’s leading numerical relativist is being awarded the CAP-CRM Prize in Mathematical Physics for the leadership which he has shown in the field of numerical simulation of gravitational systems and for the remarkable effect which he discovered in the formation of black holes. The effect in question, now called the Choptuik effect, is that black holes demonstrate “critical” behavior in their formation, as do condensed matter systems undergoing phase transitions.

The discovery of this result has potential implications for black hole thermodynamics, for understanding information loss in black hole evaporation, and as a model displaying a (mild) naked singularity. This is certainly the most important, and unexpected, result in classical relativity in recent years. As B. Birger states in her Living Reviews article on “Numerical Approaches to Spacetime Singularities” 7berger/node4.html “We note that this is the first completely new phenomenon in general relativity to be discovered by numerical simulation.” Such discoveries take a rare blend of great technical proficiency (especially important in numerical work where coding or algorithmic errors can creep in all too easily), of the ability to recognize those faint hints of something new, and of the confidence and persistence to pursue those hints and refine the techniques until they reveal the new feature in all its glory.

Equally important has been his role in training and encouraging the next generation of Numerical Relativists. The younger researchers, from graduate students to faculty members around the world look to him as the leader in the field.

He is also the recipient of the Basil Xanthopolous prize in General Relativity in 1998, a prestigious prize given to the top Relativist under 40 in the world every two years, the Rutherford medal of the Royal Society of Canada, was chosen by Maclean’s Magazine as one of Canada’s outstanding young researchers, and has been awarded and honourary degree by his alma mater, Brandon University.

Because of his technical skill in Computational Physics, his ability to then recognize and extract the Physics from the computation, and his leadership in the burgeoning field of numerical approaches to theoretical physics, he is this year’s recipient of the CAP-CRM Prize.

The annual CAP-CRM Prize in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics was first introduced in 1995. Dr. Choptuik will receive the 2003 Prize during the CAP's awards banquet to be held at the University of Prince Edward Island on June 10th, 2003.

The Canadian Association of Physicists, founded in 1945, is a professional association representing over 1600 individual physicists and physics students in Canada, the U.S. and overseas, as well as a number of Corporate and Departmental Members. In addition to its learned activities, the CAP also undertakes a number of activities intended to encourage students to pursue a career in physics.

The Centre de recherches mathématiques is a national research centre in mathematics and theoretical physics jointly supported by the federal government, the province of Quebec, and the Université de Montréal where it is based. Among the activities of the CRM are thematic years, summer schools, workshops, seminars, and the publication of monographs, proceedings, and lecture notes in mathematics and physics.

For more information, please contact:

Canadian Association of Physicists
Tel: (613) 562-5614
Fax: (613) 562-5615

or Centre de recherche mathématiques
Tel: (514) 343-7501
Fax: (514) 343-2254