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Nobel Prize Recipients – our selection from the last decade

The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in six categories by Swedish and Norwegian committees to recognize academic, cultural, or scientific advances.

The creator of the award was Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, engineer, and inventor. He is the person behind the invention of dynamite. He also had 355 patents to his name. Out of his many achievements, he is best known for creating the Nobel Prizes.

The will of Alfred Nobel established the five Nobel prizes in 1895. The prizes in Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine were first awarded in 1901. An associated prize, the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, was established by Sweden’s central bank in 1968 and was first awarded in 1969.

Nobel Prizes are awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, literature, peace, physics, physiology or medicine, and economics. They are regarded as the most prestigious awards in their respective fields.

A separate committee awards each prize; the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the prizes in Physics and Chemistry, the Swedish Academy awards the prize in Literature, and the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awards the prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901, and it was for physics. The prize was shared by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, who discovered X-rays, and Henri Becquerel, who discovered radioactivity.

“Education is clearly key if we are to build a greater Appreciation

Of science into both political and the public consciousness”

                                                 – Peter C. Doherty

Significant Nobel Prizes of the Past Decade

The discoveries and work of all Nobel Laureates have been a source of great inspiration, help, and progression in the world. Here are some of the past decade’s most impactful and significant Nobel Laureates.

Physics

Nobel Prize in Physics (2012):

Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded in 2012 to Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland for their groundbreaking experimental methods enabling measuring and manipulating individual quantum systems.

Quantum particles are observed in a vastly contrasting way to classical particles. You can easily observe a classical particle, but in the case of quantum particles, you need to view a large number of particles and calculate their average because only ensembles give a meaningful result.

This area of research is an exciting playground for applications ranging from quantum computing to metrology to the foundations of quantum theory (Morello, 2012) [1].

Nobel Prize in Physics (2009):

Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded in 2009 to Charles Kuen Kao for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication.

Charles Kao managed to drastically increase the distance that light could be used as a medium of data transportation by creating optical fibers. He was able to identify that previous attempts to create fiber optics were due to the scattering of light particles because of the impurity in the glass.

“A physicist is just an atom’s way of looking at itself”

-Niels Bohr

Peace

Nobel Peace Prize (2020):

Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 2020 to World Food Programme (WFP) for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas, and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.

The agency was recognized “for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee (United Nations, 2020) [2]. 

Nobel Peace Prize (2018):

Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 2018 to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.

Mukwege and Murad worked on helping the victims of sexual violence at grave risk to their health and lives. They spread the stories of the unfortunate so that the world becomes aware of the crimes being committed against these people.

Murad became the voice and face of the women who have suffered sexual assault in the Islamic State. Dr. Denis Mukwege is a gynecologist who founded a Democratic Republic of Congo hospital.

“You cannot find peace by avoiding life”

-Virginia Woolf

Chemistry

Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2019):

Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded in 2019 to John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for the development of lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized portable electronics and are used to power most of the devices of the modern world. All modern smartphones, laptops, and cameras use lithium-ion batteries as their power source.

The lithium-ion battery’s stability, compact nature, and rechargeability have made it the most reliable power source for modern electronics.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2017):

Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded in 2017 to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution.

The technique flash-freezes a sample to create a layer of ice like a pane of glass over a layer of liquid where the molecules can retain their natural shape (Guarino, 2017) [3].

For scientists to see molecules’ structure at ultrahigh resolutions, the molecules need to be held in place in their natural configuration. This is extremely hard to do with biological molecules.

If water is removed, the molecules might collapse, and crystals might distort the image if they are frozen. These biophysicists figured out how to cool the water fast enough that crystals would not form.

“Chemistry begins in the stars. The stars are the source of the chemical elements,

Which are the building blocks of matter and the core of our subject”

-Peter Atkins

Physiology or Medicine

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2018):

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded in 2018 to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibiting negative immune regulation.

The research conducted by Allison and Honjo has helped scientists gain a deeper understanding of how the immune system recognizes tumor cells. They have identified two proteins on the T-Cell’s surface that prevent the T-Cells from killing the cancer cells.

They managed to show that inhibiting these two proteins allowed the T-Cell to eradicate the cancer cells more effectively. This research led to the clinical development of immune checkpoint inhibitors.    

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2014):

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded in 2014 to John O’Keefe, May-Britt Moser, and Edvard I. Moser for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain.

The research of these three scientists has helped us discover how we know where we are, find our way from place to place, and store the information for later use.

The laureates’ findings may eventually lead to a better understanding of the spatial losses that occur in Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases. The hippocampus and entorhinal cortex are often damaged in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, with affected individuals losing their way and failing to recognize the environment (Altman, 2014) [4].

“Wherever the art of medicine is loved,

There is also a love of humanity”

-Hippocrates

Literature

Nobel Prize In Literature (2021):

Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded in 2021 to Abdulrazak Gurnah for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of colonialism’s effects and the refugee’s fate in the gulf between cultures and continents.

Gurnah’s work has opened the eyes of many to a culturally diversified East Africa. He has deeply explored the impact of colonialism East Africa and the effects on the lives of uprooted individuals.

“[Gurnah] has consistently and with great compassion penetrated the effects of colonialism in East Africa and its effects on the lives of uprooted and migrating individuals,” Olsson told journalists in Stockholm (Flood, 2021) [5].

Nobel Prize In Literature (2019):

Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded in 2019 to Peter Handke for an influential work that, with linguistic ingenuity, has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience.

Handke is an Austrian writer and playwright. His best-known work is the 1966 novel “The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick.”

Handke’s work covers a wide range of formats and themes (his first career-making play, Publikumsbeschimpfung (Offending the Audience, 1969) is based on the idea that actors insult the audience simply for attending.

“Literature is the best way to overcome death.”

-Ilan Stavans

Economics

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences (2019):

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was awarded in 2019 to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.

Their work has been a great boon for development economics and has helped change the deep assumptions about how individuals make decisions. Their research has demonstrated the value of applying the central ideas from behavioral economics to transmit information in ways that overcome resistance to top-down advice.

Banerjee, Duflo, and Kremer have changed the working lives of many development economists. In the past, their visits to the field stimulated important new ideas, but most development economists did their work at a desk, drawing out deductions. Now many more development economists do experimental work, with lots of time working in the field (Hoff, 2019) [6].

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences (2018):

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was awarded in 2018 to William D. Nordhaus for integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis.

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was awarded in 2018 to Paul M. Romer for integrating technological innovations into long-run macroeconomic analysis.

These two economists’ work hopes to change how governments think about policymaking. Professor Nordhaus has been especially adamant regarding the taxation of carbon emissions so that the ones who make the most pollution have to pay for ruining the world.

He hopes that decisions like these could drive research to come up with better and cleaner ways of production, thus grinding the slow decline of the climate to a halt and returning to a greener, healthier earth.

Professor Romer has said that his work showed that governments could drive technological change. He noted the success of efforts to reduce emissions of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons in the 1990s, leading to the repair of the ozone hole at the north pole.

“Economics is everywhere, and understanding economics can

Help you make better decisions and lead a happier life”

-Tyler Cowen

Conclusion

The Nobel Prize recognizes and rewards science, literature, and peace excellence. The prize is given to people who have done something significant to benefit humanity. The prize money is also a good incentive for people to continue doing great work and encourages people to pursue their passions in the hopes that they might make the world a better place.

The Nobel Prize is a great honor and incentive for everyone to try their best to become a good influence in the world and inspire others to improve the world that we live in. The prizes are awarded “to those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind” in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace.

 

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References

[1]: Andrea Morello, 10th October 2012, The 2012 Nobel Prize In Physics, Explained

[2]: United Nations, 2020, UN World Food Programme Wins 2020 Nobel Peace Prize

[3]: Ben Guarino, 4th October 2017, Three biophysicists win the 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry for imaging molecules of life

[4]: Lawrence K. Altman, 6th October 2014, Nobel Prize in Medicine Is Awarded To Three Who Discovered Brain’s ‘Inner GPS’

[5]: Alison Flood, 7th October 2021, Abdulrazak Gurnah Wins The 2021 Nobel Prize In Literature

[6]: Karla Hoff, 7th November 2019, Changing the culture of economics: The 2019 Nobel laureates

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