DESCRIPTION OF COMPETITION
This is an open national “Young Scholars Competition” for science investigators under the age of 40, determined by their age on October 13, 2008. Five finalists will be selected through this nationwide competition to participate in New Vision 400: Engaging Big Questions in Astronomy & Cosmology Four Hundred Years after the Invention of the Telescope, a symposium to be held at the Great Hall of the People and on the campus of Peking University from October 13, 2008 through October 15, 2008. The finalists will be invited to the symposium in Beijing, all expenses covered, to participate in scientific sessions. Substantial prizes will be awarded to the winners for excellence in conceptualizing and presenting dynamic, innovative, and visionary approaches in astronomy, cosmology and related technological innovation. The winning papers, along with the lectures of distinguished scholars, may be published in the conference book.
New Vision 400: Engaging Big Questions in Astronomy & Cosmology Four Hundred Years after the Invention of the Telescope is aimed to celebrate the invention of the telescope four hundred years ago by Hans Lipperhey in 1608 in the Netherlands. The meeting will focus on the brief history of telescopes, the present and future development of astronomy, the role of technological innovations in the advancement of science, and, most importantly, life’s big questions in light of discoveries made with telescopes: the origin, creativity, and the purposefulness of the Universe, the place of humans in the Universe, the implications of the discovery of planets around other stars, the role telescopes have to play in searching for life elsewhere in the Universe, and the impact the answers to those questions will have on humanity. It is hoped that high level research partnerships will develop as a result of this conference that will benefit astronomers from East and West.
Five finalists will be invited to the symposium to present concise summaries of the papers they submit to the competition. The five talks will be scheduled in 20- to 25-minute slots (15 minutes plus 5 to 10 minutes Q&A). Attendees will include distinguished research leaders from around the world. The Conference budget will cover all travel, lodging, registration, and dining expenses for the five finalists. The formal papers may be selected for publication in the conference book, at the discretion of the editors.
METHOD OF APPLICATION
Submitting an application involves the following two processes.
First, a letter of intent to participate in the competition should be submitted electronically no later than midnight (Beijing time) May 23, 2008 via email to email@example.com. The brief letter should state the name(s) of the author(s), the title of the work, the name of the presenter (if there are more than one authors), the topical area(s) of the to-be- submitted paper and the name of the requested reference testifying to the command of English of the presenter.
Second, complete application materials should be submitted electronically no later than midnight (Beijing time) June 20, 2008 via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Each complete application should consist of the following six components:
- A cover letter indicating the topical area(s) to which the research applies (see the next section).
- An abstract of 300 words or less related to one or more of the three topical areas (the abstract must specify which area[s] it applies to).
- A short paper of 2,500 words or less discussing the research that would be presented if the candidate is selected to be a finalist by the competition judges. This document may be supplemented by tables, diagrams, equations, and any necessary references.
- A biographical sketch of no more than 500 words with date of birth and preferably with web links to any professional publications or preprints that would assist those involved in the evaluation and selection process.
- A supporting reference letter from a senior scholar (a full professor or equivalent) verifying the applicant’s English capability. The program will reserve the right to withdraw the prize if the applicant has demonstrated a lack of clarity in English presentation.
- (For multiple authors only :) Applications typically should be made by individuals. However, in many cases, research results are developed by groups of researchers working together. Applications should state in advance how they would share a possible prize award, and in what proportions, with other collaborators who also qualify as “young” researchers (i.e., under the age 40, determined by their age on October 13, 2008). Senior group leaders and other persons over the age of 39 involved in such teams are not eligible for fractional awards of prize monies. They are most welcome, however, to share in the honor and can be credited in the public record.
All application materials should be in English. Again, please note the two deadlines. All components should be sent electronically to email@example.com. PDF files are preferred unless the graphic content is too large to transmit by email. Other formats will also be accepted. An address for sending disks, if necessary, will be provided. Note that application materials will not be returned, and the contents of all presentations will be saved and subsequently made available archivally.(TOP)
Winners will be selected on the basis of outstanding merit. The work should be original and has not been submitted for publication elsewhere at the time of the application. Candidates should not apply unless their work is serious, innovative, and substantively engaged with the questions listed in one of the following three topical areas. Preference will be given to submissions demonstrating novel experimental innovations or deep theoretical insights.
Topical Area 1: Research yielding profound new insights, innovative concepts and perspectives toward answering “really big questions” in astronomy and cosmology. The first topical area might include, but is not limited to, issues related to the following questions:
Where and how do planets form How do the discovery and characterization of extrasolar planets elucidate the mechanism of planet-formation
What can we learn from the birth, life and death of stars
How does the study of the Sun, as an otherwise unattainable star with detailed in-depth observations, lead to an improved knowledge of the structure and evolution of stars
How do galaxies form and evolve as they age
What implications for Galactic structure and evolution can be drawn by studying some of the oldest objects in the Galaxy, the “fossil record”, such as globular clusters and extreme metal-poor stars
How do the theory of galaxy formation/evolution and observational large-scale structure advance our understanding of cosmology
How did the universe originate How will the universe end
What is dark matter What is dark energy What is the nature of a vacuum
Will major advances in science emerge from breakthroughs in astronomical and cosmological research focused on understanding the nature of life Is there intelligent life on other extrasolar planets
How bio-friendly is the universe Can the idea of multiverse be justified through scientific testing
Topical Area 2: Technological innovations and specific inventions linked with new astrophysical visions. The second topical area might include, but is not limited to, issues related to the following questions:
A description of a key technological invention by the authors, relevant to exploration of the cosmos.
Why is active optics a key technology in designing and building large and extremely large telescopes What pertinent innovations have been implemented in the LAMOST project
What is likely the most cost-effective way with radio observation to measure dark matter and dark energy
In which way are technological advances, such as adaptive optics and optical interferometry, exploited to obtain high-resolution imaging and spectra
How can we maximize the benefits from excellent observation conditions, particularly in space and at Dome A on the Antarctic Plateau
What “big questions” beyond the practical reach of current equipment can be addressed in the era of “extremely large telescope”
What role has technology played in recent astronomical advances
How have recent attitudes in astronomy been changed by unanticipated discoveries that benefited from new techniques or instruments
Topical Area 3: Epistemological, philosophical, and cultural implications of the history of astronomy. The third topical area might include, but is not limited to, issues related to the following questions:
What can we learn from the history of astronomy and archaeoastronomy in making future directions of astronomical research
How can we excavate the most information from ancient Chinese astronomical records and integrate it into modern astronomical research
What are the unique characteristics of ancient Chinese astronomical expertise in understating the Cosmos
How are the traditional Chinese perspectives of nature similar to and/or different from those of the West Did they affect the way the Chinese have engaged in the study of astronomy differently from that of the West
What is the balance of accidental discovery and the experimental scientific process in the making of progress in astronomy(TOP)
Oversight of this competition is provided by the Co-Chairs of the New Vision 400 program: Donald York (The University of Chicago) and Jiansheng Chen (Peking University). Gang Zhao (Chinese Astronomical Society) will serve as the on-site Chair for the competition. A Young Scholars Committee, comprised of both Chinese and international scholars, will be organized under the leadership of the Co-Chairs. (Applicants should not contact any of these persons outside of the formal process of the competition itself). The screening committee will choose the five finalists who will be invited to make presentations at the symposium based on the merits of the submitted materials.(TOP)
The five finalists will compete by presenting their ideas and research results (in 15-minute talks and a 5- to 10-minute Q&A session following each talk) before panel of judges. The panel will consist of distinguished members of the conference committees. The panel will award two First Prizes of $4,000, and two Second Prizes of $2,000, one Prize in each category of the first two topical areas. Another First Prize of $4,000 will be awarded in the third topical area. A prize shall be deemed vacant should no eligible candidate be available. The prizes will be presented at the conference banquet on Tuesday evening, October 14, 2008.
The key judging criteria are:
- Clear relevance to at least one of the three topical areas.
- Two criteria-of-merit that are weighted and will be used both in the initial selection for invitations and for the competition itself:
Demonstrated capability of the candidate based on previous research accomplishments.
Academic rigor, innovativeness, depth, power, and persuasiveness of the research.
- The likely positive impact of the research in transforming the quest of astronomy and cosmology to reveal deep new insights into nature and to develop new tools to facilitate and advance this request, as well as to create useful technological innovations.(TOP)
Jiansheng Chen, Donald York, Gang Zhao