The 2010 laureates in Astrophysics
"for their contributions to the development of giant telescopes"
Jerry Nelson,of the University of California, Santa Cruz, US, Ray Wilson, formerly of Imperial College London and the European Southern Observatory, and Roger Angel, of the University of Arizona, Tucson, US, share the astrophysics prize for their respective innovations in the field of telescope design that have allowed us glimpses of ever more distant and ancient objects and events in the remote corners of the Universe.
Angel created mirrors made of glass and molded them to incorporate a honeycomb pattern of holes, to reduce their weight and increase their rigidity, allowing the building of larger telescopes. Approaching the same problem from a different direction, Wilson developed computer-controlled actuators to make small constant changes to telescope mirror shapes to correct for distortions caused by gravity, wind and temperature, during use. Nelson meanwhile abandoned the idea of using a single large mirror in favour of a system comprising of multiple small hexagonal mirror tiles that are carefully shaped and controlled by computerised actuators to constantly maintain the ideal reflecting surface.