Canadian Association of Physicists ASSOCIATION CANADIENNE DES


2005 CAP Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics

will be awarded to


"To have my work and that of my students and other collaborators acknowledged in this way by the Canadian Association of Physicists is a great source of inspiration for me."


Dr. Michael ThewaltThe Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) is pleased to announce that the 2005 CAP Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics is awarded to Dr. Derek York, University of Toronto for his pioneering contributions to the development and application of novel techniques of radiometric age determination. These have profoundly influenced a number of fields including geo-physics, archeology and anthropology. In addition, he has uniquely conveyed the excitement and wonder of the entire scientific enterprise to the public through his books and newspaper articles.

Throughout his 44 years on the staff of the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto, Derek York has made major contributions to physics through his internationally recognized research, through serving as Chair of the Department from 1992-97, and by his popularization of science through brilliantly written books and newspaper articles.

In particular, Derek York has pioneered in the development and application of novel techniques of radiometric age determination, especially the laser step-heating of 40Ar/39Ar dating for which he is internationally renowned. This methodology has been replicated in most of the leading laboratories in the world. He was able to provide the first accurate age determination of the feathered dinosaurs and demonstrated that the human family (i.e., the genus homo) extended back 400,000 years further into the past than previously thought. Professor York has also made notable contributions to plate tectonic theory and to the theory and application of methods to infer the cooling histories of ancient mountain belts. His three books on geophysics have been variously translated into Italian, Portuguese, Chinese and Japanese. His earliest papers on the statistical analysis of isotopic data to infer radiometric age have been declared Citation Index Classics. For more than a decade he simultaneously pursued a very successful second career as an interpreter of the results of all branches of scientific inquiry to the general public through a regular series of columns for the Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest newspaper. This highly creative scholar has not only been successful in elevating his personal research to the highest level but has also sought to convey the excitement and wonder of the entire scientific enterprise to the Canadian public.

The CAP Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics was introduced in 1956 and is awarded annually. Dr. York will receive the 2005 Prize during the CAP's awards banquet to be held at the University of British Columbia on June 7th, 2005.

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.

For more information, please contact:

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