About The Gazette Search Back Issues Contact Us    
The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 5, 2008 | Vol. 37 No. 33
Inventors Hall of Fame Honors Astrophysicist Riccardo Giacconi

By Lisa De Nike

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 universe.

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 University Professor.

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 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 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.


The Gazette | The Johns Hopkins University | Suite 540 | 901 S. Bond St. | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 443-287-9900 |