Nobel prize recap
Who won what at this year’s award ceremonies
Article: Alec Salloum – News Writer
The annual Nobel Prize award season has come to a close this month, with a remarkable list of winners. Of all the laureates, 12 people and one organization, representing eight countries (Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Israel, South Africa, the UK and the USA) were awarded the prestigious distinction.
Alfred Nobel, a Swedish inventor, chemist and engineer, created the Nobel Prize. The award spawned from a concern over his legacy, as Nobel had amassed a considerable fortune from his invention of dynamite. Labeled, “The Merchant of Death” by a newspaper, Nobel added a final clause to his will, stating his fortune was to be given to “those who… shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind”. Over a century later this wish has persisted and the Nobel Prize has become one of the most prestigious awards in the world.
2013 saw Francois Englert and the eponymous Peter W. Higgs win the Physics award for their work at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider and the first ever observation of the theorized Higgs Boson Particle, also referred to as the ‘god particle.’ Staffan Normark, Permanent Secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, said at the announcement that “the prize was about something very small that makes all the difference.” An accurate statement as the Higgs Boson is theorized to be the most intrinsic and fundamental particle in existence as it gives mass to all elementary particles. The search for the particle began in 1964 and dramatically contributes to our understanding of the world around us, on a sub particle level.
The award for Chemistry was awarded jointly to Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel for their melding of quantum and Newtonian physics in computer programs, allowing for unmatched theoretical exploration that was previously impossible. Professor Sven Lidin explained what this development allowed chemists to do, emphasizing the new relation between theoretical and experimental chemists. “Chemistry is an experimental science… theoretical chemists are working together with experimentalists to help us understand the complex reactions in photosynthesis, how to design drugs to fit with their target molecules in the body” and greater understanding of reactions.
[pullquote]“Over a century later this wish has persisted and the Nobel Prize has become one of the most prestigious awards in the world.”[/pullquote]
Three scientists, James Rothman, Randy Schekman and Thomas Südhof, were awarded the prize for Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells.” Essentially, “how the right substances could be delivered to the right destinations at the right time… how the cell organizes its transport system,” summarized Professor Juleen Zierath. This discovery ultimately gives a guide to how this process occurs, a process that was previously a mystery.
The highly prestigious Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). This award follows a long tradition of awarding individuals and organizations that seek means of disarmament. The award was seen as being timely given the events in Syria pertaining to chemical attacks. Awards for nuclear abolishment have been given previously, as well as for landmine eradication. 2013 marked the first award given to an organization seeking to abolish chemical weapons.
The 2013 Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded to Eugene Fama, Lars Hansen and Robert Shiller. Their work established predictability of long-term asset prices. “The research of the Laureates has revealed a number of important regularities that are helping us to arrive at better explanations” for how asset prices are determined. This new economic insight could potentially affect how business and individuals invest in the future.
Canadian author Alice Munroe was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Watch for a feature on her and Canadian literature in the next issue of the Carillon.