Jessica Atlee

Karen Uhlenbeck’s pioneering work marries math with physics. Her work in the field of mathematical physics has earned her numerous honors and awards, including the 1988 Noether Lecture award, the National Medal of Science in 2001, and the 2007 Steele Prize for a Seminal Contribution to Mathematical Research from the American Mathematical Society. A MacArthur fellow, she is also the first woman to win the Abel Prize in its 17-year history.

Few numbers have gotten under astronomers’ skin like the Hubble constant. In fact, experts have debated the value of this single parameter for 90 years, and if astronomers can measure its value with great precision, they’ll be one step closer to solving some of the other grand astronomical mysteries of our age. There’s just one problem: The measurements they’ve taken don’t agree. The discrepancy makes scientists question whether something is amiss in our understanding of the universe.