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Science is a means to peace

Friday July 1, 2022 – 18:10

Balzan Awards 2021, Quadrio Corzio: Science is a means to peace

Awards presentation in Bern in the presence of Erin Kalin

BERN, July 1 (askanews) – The 2021 Balzan Awards are awarded to Giorgio Buccellati and Marilyn Kelly Buccellati for “Arte and Archeology of the Ancient Near East”; Alessandra Bonanno and Thibault D’Amore on “Gravity: Physical and Astronomical Aspects”. Saul Friedlander, “Holocaust and Genocide Studies.” and Jeffrey Gordon on “The Microbiome in Health and Disease.”

The ceremony – which took place on July 1, instead of September 13, 2021 because the work of the public Balzan Prize Committee could not be closed in time – was presented by the President of the Balzan “Fondo” Foundation, Giselle Gerges-Moussi and the President of the Balzan “Premio” Alberto Foundation Quadrio Corzio. In accordance with the ceremonial rite, each winner, presented by Luciano Maiani, President of the General Committee for Awards, gave a speech of acceptance and thanks.


“In the face of the tragedies of the past three years – Alberto Quadrio Curzio commented on the sidelines of the ceremony – Balzan continued to work to keep the international scientific community alive and which is a vehicle for dialogue and peace. Science and culture can unite and must never give up this human role, without which humanity would lose itself. an important part of being there.”

The Balzan Awards are held in alternating years: in Rome, in the presence of the President of the Italian Republic, and in Bern in the presence of a member of the Federal Council or the Swiss National Council. Each prize is worth 750,000 Swiss francs (about 724,000 euros), half of which will be invested in research. In fact, since 2001, General Prize Committee regulations have required winners to dedicate half of their award to fund research projects undertaken by young scientists. The four subjects to be awarded change each year and are chosen in two categories: literature, moral sciences, art, physics, mathematics, natural sciences, and medicine. The rotation of subjects allows new or emerging lines of research to be privileged, supporting important fields of study, but neglecting other major international awards.


The International Balzan Foundation, founded in 1956, operates through two offices: the International Balzan Foundation “Prize”, in Milan, with the General Prize Committee which selects the subjects to be awarded and selects the nominations; and the International Balzan Foundation “Fondo”, in Zurich, which manages the assets bequeathed by Eugenio Balzan, to provide the necessary financial resources to the International Balzan Award Foundation “award”.

The 2021 Balzan Prize awarded to Giorgio Buccellati and Marilyn Kelly Buccellati had this motive: “For the successes in the study of Hurrian culture and for having revealed its importance as the founder of a great urban civilization, one of the most prosperous in the world. The Near East in the third millennium BC; to promote The digital approach to the study of archeology; to develop theoretical approaches to this discipline.


Alessandra Bonanno and Thibault D’Amore received an award “for their pioneering role in predicting the gravitational wave signals that result when extremely compact objects, such as neutron stars and black holes, orbit each other and eventually merge into a single object. Their work was instrumental in the first detection of gravitational waves, This provided very accurate confirmation of general relativity as a theory of gravity. It also allowed the LIGO and Virgo detectors to promote a type of astronomy that uses gravitational waves as new and powerful messengers to the universe.”

The motivation for the Saul Friedländer Prize was as follows: “For her unparalleled influence on the development of Holocaust studies. For his masterpiece, the integral story of the persecution and extermination of Europe’s Jews. For he created a historical narrative that expresses the ineffable, combining the subversive voices of victims, torturers and onlookers with Scientific analysis.

Jeffrey Gordon received an award “for establishing the field of research on the human microbiome and revolutionizing our understanding of its role in health and disease, including its impact on our nutritional state.”

For each of the four prizes, the International Balzan Foundation awarded 750,000 Swiss francs (about 740,000 euros), a sum that makes it one of the most generous international awards that promote culture and science in the world. The winners themselves must allocate half of the amount to research projects undertaken by young scientists.

The ceremony was preceded, on Thursday 30 June, by the Interdisciplinary Forum for the Balzan 2021 Laureates, organized by the Balzan Foundation jointly with the Swiss Academies of Sciences; An opportunity for public discussion on the topics awarded this year.

(Pictured: A moment from the 2021 Balzan Awards ceremony at the Bernese Federal Palace)

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