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Nobel Prizes 2021

Physics Prize

“for groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex physical systems”

This year’s Physics Prize is shared by three laureates for their studies on chaotic and deceptively random phenomena:

1. Syukuro Manabe (Princeton University, USA) and Klaus Hasselmann (Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany) for laying the foundation of our knowledge on Earth’s climate and how humanity influences it.

2. Giorgio Parisi (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy) made revolutionary contributions to the theory of disordered materials and random processes.

These three scientists "found hidden patterns in the climate and in other complex phenomena" radically changing our perception of our planet's climate and how we influence it.

Syukuro Manabe, born 1931 in Shingu, Japan. Ph.D. 1957 from University of Tokyo, Japan. Senior Meteorologist at Princeton University, USA.

Klaus Hasselmann, born 1931 in Hamburg, Germany. Ph.D. 1957 from University of Göttingen, Germany. Professor, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany.

Giorgio Parisi, born 1948 in Rome. Italy. Ph.D. 1970 from Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. Professor at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

Chemistry Prize

“for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis”

The Chemistry Nobel Prize 2021 is awarded to Benjamin List (Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany) and David W.C. MacMillan (Princeton University, USA) for finding a new way, “an ingenious tool,” for building molecules: organocatalysis.

When molecules are formed, scenarios frequently arise in which two molecules are developed, mirror images of one other, exactly like our hands. Chemists usually only need one of these, especially when producing pharmaceuticals. Organic catalysts allow the creation of a single molecule, asymmetric catalysis. Benjamin List and David MacMillan are leaders in the field and have shown how organic catalysts can be used to drive multitudes of chemical reactions, from producing medicine to capturing light in solar panels, all great benefits for humankind. In short, "their tools revolutionised the construction of molecules."

Benjamin List, born 1968 in Frankfurt, Germany. Ph.D. 1997 from Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany. Director of the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany.

David W.C. MacMillan, born 1968 in Bellshill, UK. Ph.D. 1996 from University of California, Irvine, USA. Professor at Princeton University, USA.

Medicine Prize

“for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch”

David Julius (University of California, USA) and Ardem Patapoutian are awarded the Medicine Nobel Prize this year for their groundbreaking discoveries of the receptors for temperature and touch: TRPV1, TRPM8 and Piezo channels. The Nobel Laureates have helped us grasp how heat, cold, and mechanical force may trigger nerve impulses that allow us to sense and adapt to our surroundings.

David Julius, born in 1955 in New York, USA. Ph.D. 1984 from University of California, Berkeley. Professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

Ardem Patapoutian, born 1967 in Beirut, Lebanon. Ph.D. 1996 from California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA. Scientist at Scripps Research, La Jolla, California, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

Literature Prize

“for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents"

This year’s Literature Prize goes to Abdulrazak Gurnah.

When he was 18, a violent revolt forced him to leave for England. He began to write parts about home in his journal, then larger pieces, then stories about other people, miserable, penniless, and homesick. Those scattered observations, along with his habit of writing to comprehend and chronicle his own dislocation, finally led to the publication of his first novel, followed by nine more, all of which deal with the lasting pain of colonialism, war, and relocation.

If you are interested in learning more about Abdulrazak Gurnah and his work, we recommend reading this article.

Abdulrazak Gurnah, 1948, Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Peace Prize

“for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression”

Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov are awarded the 2021 Peace Nobel Prize. Both journalists, Reesa in Philippines and Muratov in Russia, they have advocated for freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

Maria Ressa uses her right to free speech to expose abuses of power, the use of violence, and the rise of authoritarianism in her homeland Philippines. Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov has fought for freedom of expression in Russia for decades, despite increasingly difficult circumstances.

Find the official press release here.

Maria Reesa, 1963, Manila, Philippines.

Dmitry Muratov, 1961, Samara, Russia

Prize in Economic Sciences

“for his empirical contributions to labour economics”

“for their methodological contributions to the analysis of causal relationships”

The 2021 Prize in Economic Sciences is awarded to three laureates, of which one is rewarded with half of the prize and the other two share the remaining half.

  1. David Card (University of California, Berkeley, USA) has studied the impact of minimum wages, immigration, and education on the labor market using natural experiments. His research in the early 1990s defied conventional thinking, resulting in fresh analyses and discoveries. The findings revealed, among other things, that raising the minimum wage does not always imply fewer jobs.

  2. Joshua D. Angrist (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA) and Guido W. Imbens (Stanford University, USA) solved a methodological challenge in the mid-1990s, demonstrating how natural experiments may provide accurate findings regarding cause and effect.

All three laureates proved "how natural experiments help answer important questions."

David Card, born 1956 in Guelph, Canada. Ph.D. 1983 from Princeton University, USA. Class of 1950 Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, USA.

Joshua D. Angrist, born 1960 in Columbus, Ohio, USA. Ph.D. 1989 from Princeton University, USA. Ford Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA.

Guido W. Imbens, born 1963 in Netherlands. Ph.D. 1991 from Brown University, Providence, USA. The Applied Econometrics Professor and Professor of Economics, Stanford University, USA.

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