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Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

May 1, 2008
CONTACT: Lisa De Nike
(443) 287-9960

National Inventors Hall of Fame Honors
JHU's Giacconi

Johns Hopkins University 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 lifetime.

Awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in physics, Giacconi is considered "the father of X-ray astronomy." He conceived the notion of launching X-ray detectors into space on rockets, which helped researchers discover the first cosmic X-ray source back 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 which enhanced our understanding of the formation, evolution and development of the early universe.

Since 1982, he has been a professor and research scientist in the Henry A. Rowland Department of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins' Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. He became a University Professor in 2004, and was also founding director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, located on the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus. Under his leadership, STScI developed the expertise and capabilities to direct the science mission for NASA's orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.

"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 Ph.D. in physics from the University of Milan in 1954.

At the same ceremony on Saturday 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 anti-fungal 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.

For photos of Giacconi, contact Lisa De Nike at 443-287-9960 or Lde@jhu.edu.