Johns Hopkins astrophysicist Riccardo Giacconi will
receive the National Inventors Hall of Fame
Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday, May 3, in Akron,
Ohio. The award is given annually to an
individual who has fostered creativity and innovation
throughout his career.
Awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in physics, Giacconi is
considered the father of X-ray
astronomy. His notion of launching X-ray detectors into
space on rockets helped researchers discover
the first cosmic X-ray source, in 1962. In 1970, he guided
implementation of NASA's UHURU
satellite--the first-ever orbiting X-ray observatory--which
provided evidence that the universe
contains a background radiation comprising X-rays and led
to the discovery of black holes. Giacconi
also played a key role in many other landmark astronomy
programs that enhanced our understanding of
the formation, evolution and development of the early
Since 1982, he has been a professor and research
scientist in the Henry
A. Rowland Department
of Physics and Astronomy in the Krieger School of Arts
and Sciences; in 2004, he was named
He also was founding director of the Space Telescope Science
Institute, located on the
Homewood campus. Under his leadership, STScI developed the
expertise and capabilities to direct the
science mission for NASA's orbiting Hubble Space
"It is a great honor to get this award," Giacconi
said. "I am particularly pleased that I am to be
included in such a restricted club which has among its
members Edison and the Wright Brothers. This
is a humbling experience."
According to Rini Paiva of the National Inventors Hall
of Fame, Giacconi is being honored "for all
that he has done throughout his life and career to foster
and encourage innovation."
"Through his work," Paiva said, "he has enabled others
to pursue and further innovations and
explore new territories."
Born in Genoa, Italy, in 1931, Giacconi received his
doctorate in physics from the University of
Milan in 1954.
At the ceremony where Giacconi will be honored, the
National Inventors Hall of Fame also will
welcome 18 inductees, 10 of whom will be recognized
posthumously. Honorees include Ruth Benerito,
known for the invention of wash-and-wear cotton; Amar Bose,
for the development of audio
technologies; and Ken Richardson, for the invention of an
antifungal drug known as Fluconzaole.
To be considered for the Hall of Fame, an inventor's
creation not only must be patented but also
must have contributed in some way to the welfare of society
and promoted the progress of science
and the useful arts.