Frank Wilczek, winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics, has been awarded the 2022 Templeton Prize for work that reveals “a vision of a universe that he regards as embodying mathematical beauty at the scales of the magnificently large and unimaginably small,” the Pennsylvania-based John Templeton Foundation announced Wednesday.
Mr. Wilczek, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the sixth Nobel laureate to receive the prize since its 1972 inception. The prize, intended as a reward for research exploring the intersection of science and spirituality, comes with a $1.3 million award.
Mr. Wilczek said in a statement, “The central miracle of physics to me is the fact that by playing with equations, drawing diagrams, doing calculations, and working within the world of mental concepts and manipulations, you are actually describing the real world. If you were looking for trying to understand what God is by understanding God’s work, that’s it.”
Heather Templeton Dill, president of the foundation, praised Mr. Wilczek’s ideas.
“By uncovering a remarkable order in the natural world, Dr. Wilczek has come to appreciate different ways of thinking about reality, and through his written work, he has invited all of us to join him in the quest for understanding. When we come face to face with the beauty that Dr. Wilczek describes, we can’t help but wonder about humankind’s place and purpose in the universe,” she said in the announcement.
Mr. Wilczek’s most recent book, “Fundamentals,” discloses “ten distilled insights drawn from physics and harmonized with artistic and philosophical sources to illuminate characteristics of physical reality,” the Templeton announcement said.
In that book, Mr. Wilczek, who said he claims no religious tradition, writes, “In studying how the world works, we are studying how God works, and thereby learning what God is. In that spirit, we can interpret the search for knowledge as a form of worship, and our discoveries as revelations.”
Paul Davies, another theoretical physicist who received the Templeton Prize in 1995, commended Mr. Wilczek’s work in a letter to the foundation.
“Through [Wilczek’s] work, we’ve begun to glimpse the sort of beauty and coherence worthy of an ultimate description of physical reality,” Mr. Davies wrote. “Wilczek has endeavored to capture the beauty and sheer ingenuity of nature, its mathematical underpinnings, and its consequences for human meaning and purpose.”