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Physicists honored for pioneering work

Two MIT physicists, Professors Bruno Coppi and Ali Javan, have recently been cited by international organizations for pioneering work in their respective fields.

Professor Coppi, known for contributions to plasma physics and nuclear fusion research, has received two major awards.

He is the recipient of the Special Prize by the Presidency of the Government of Italy for Cuture (scientific research). The prize and its monetary award were presented at a ceremony in Rome.

In October, he received the 1993 European Italgas Prize for Research and Innovation. The prize, which carries a monetary award of about $65,000, was conferred at the conclusion of ceremonies that included lectures by prize recipients at a gathering attended by recipients from previous years and other distinguished scientists from throughout Europe.

Also in recent months, Professor Coppi was asked to serve as a Senior Fellow of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America. He joins other leading representatives of Italian and American culture, each a recognized leader in his or her field. Senior fellows act together as gatekeepers and intellectual guardians of the Academy's programs.

Professor Coppi devised and conducted the Alcator program of record-breaking experiments on well-confined plasmas and led the study of the first thermonuclear ignition experiments proposed on the basis of existing technologies and knowledge of plasma physics.

Dr. Javan, the Francis Wright Davis Professor of Physics at MIT, known for trailblazing research in lasers, has been selected by the World Cultural Council as the recipient of its 1993 Albert Einstein World Award of Science.

The council cited Dr. Javan's "valuable and pioneering research in the field of stimulated emission of light, especially for the invention of the gas laser, a powerful tool of wide applicability in scientific research. It is also an acknowledgment of outstanding members of the scientific community distributed in more than 60 countries, members of the World Cultural Council."

In selecting the recipient of the award, which was established to recognize and inspire scientific research and development, judges take into consideration investigations which have brought true benefit and well-being to humankind, the council said.

A diploma, a commemorative medal and a monetary gift, were presented at the council's annual award dinner in December at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City.

Dr. Javan conceived the principles of the gas laser in 1958, and while a member of the technical staff at the Bell Telephone Laboratory in 1960, he developed and successfully operated the first gas laser, the well known and widely used helium-neon laser.

A version of this article appeared in the February 9, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 22).

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