The Andrei Sakharov Prize

Betty Tsang*

The APS Andrei Sakharov Prize is named in recognition of the courageous and effective work of Andrei Sakharov on behalf of human rights, to the detriment of his own scientific career and despite the loss of his own personal freedom. It was established to recognize outstanding leadership and/or achievements of scientists in upholding human rights. The Prize is endowed by contributions from friends of Andrei Sakharov. In 2004, the Forum of International Physics contributed $5,000 to the endowment.

The prize is awarded bi-annually. The first Andrei Sakharov Prize in 2006 was awarded to the Soviet dissident Dr. Yuri Orlov of SOS (Scientists for Sakharov, Orlov and Sharansky) fame. The 2008 Andrei Sakharov Prize Selection committee consisted of Andrew Sessler (chair), Edward Gerjuoy, Joel Primack, Yuri Orlov and Betty Tsang.

Prof. Liangying Xu, the main translator of a three-volume “Collected works of Einstein” and an outspoken dissident/activist in China, was chosen as the 2008 award winner. Prof. Xu was featured in a New York Times article as “Einstein’s Man in Beijing: A Rebel with a Cause” on Aug 22, 2006. Unfortunately, due to ill health he could not travel to St. Louis to receive his Prize on April 13 during the 2008 APS April meeting. His son Chenggang Xu accepted the prize on his behalf. Xu gave the APS the first edition of the “Collected works of Einstein” to the APS. At the award session, part of the video clips of Prof. Xu reading his acceptance speech in Chinese was shown. As majority of the audience are English speaking, Prof. Zuoyue Wang of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona read the translated version of the speech. Prof. Danian Hu of City College of New York showed photographs of Prof. Xu’s life and human rights activities. Both Prof. Hu and Prof. Wang were Xu’s former graduate students. The translation of the speech is reprinted below.

Photo courtesy of Mimi Huang, World Journal.

Arthur Bienenstock, APS president, accepting the first edition of the Chinese "Collected Works of Einstein" from Chenggang Xu. (Photo courtesy of Mimi Huang, World Journal.)

* Member of the Sakharov Prize Selection Committee and the FIP, Executive Committee