Balzan prizes awarded to 4 academics

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MILAN (AP) ? An Anglo-American expert on the early evolution of the universe and an Irish-born historian of the rise of Christianity and the cult of the saints are two of the four winners of this year’s Balzan Prizes.

Astronomer Joseph Silk and historian Peter Brown joined Polish philosopher Bronislaw Baczko and Russell Lande of the U.S. in winning the 750,000 Swiss franc (?670,000; $950,000) prize, which seeks to highlight new or emerging areas of research and to sustain overlooked fields of study.

The Balzan foundation, based in Milan and Zurich, was established by the family of Italian journalist Eugenio Balzan, who fled his homeland to Switzerland in the 1930s to oppose Fascist pressure on the media.

Each year, the prizes are awarded in different subjects.