Things to know about the Nobel Prize
As we all know the Nobel Prize is one of the most prestigious awards bestowed on individuals or institutions for outstanding achievements in the...
As we all know the Nobel Prize is one of the most prestigious awards bestowed on individuals or institutions for outstanding achievements in the field of medicine, physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics.
Questions on Nobel awards are often asked in Prelims and even in Mains. For this we must have sound knowledge of this topic. In this post we will know 5 things about the Nobel Awards well in time before official announcement of the awardees later this month.
Who created the Nobel Prizes?
The prizes in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace were established by the will of Alfred Nobel, a wealthy Swedish industrialist and the inventor of dynamite. The first awards were handed out in 1901, five years after Nobel’s death. The economics award officially known as the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel wasn’t created by Nobel, but by Sweden’s central bank in 1968.
Who can nominate names for the Nobel Prize?
Thousands of people around the world are eligible to submit nominations for the Nobel Prizes. They include university professors, lawmakers, previous Nobel laureates and the committee members themselves. Though the nominations are kept secret for 50 years, those who submit them sometimes announce their suggestions publicly, particularly for the Nobel Peace Prize. That’s how we know that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Pope Francis, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi are among this year’s 273 nominees.
The Norwegian connection
The Nobel Peace Prize is presented in Norway while the other awards are handed out in Sweden. That’s how Alfred Nobel wanted it. Sometimes relations have been tense between the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, which manages the prize money, and the fiercely independent peace prize committee in Oslo.
What does it take to win a Nobel?
Patience, for one. Scientists often have to wait decades to have their work recognized by the Nobel judges, who want to make sure that any breakthrough withstands the test of time. That’s a departure from Nobel’s will, which states that the awards should endow “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind”. The peace prize committee is the only one that regularly rewards achievements made in the previous year. According to Nobel’s wishes, that prize should go to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.
Nobel Prizes awarded in the following fields
• Annual awards are given in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or
Medicine, Literature, Peace, and Economics.
• Frist established in 1895 at the will of the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel.
• All the Prize except Peace Prize awarded at Stockholm, Sweden.
• Peace Prize awarded in Oslo, Norway.
• The Prize is not awarded posthumously.
• The Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry, and Economic Science presented by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
• The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is presented by the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute.
• The Nobel Prize for Literature presented by the Swedish Academy.
• The Nobel Prize in Peace presented by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
• Youngest Nobel Laureate- Malala Yousafzai for Peace in 2014
• Oldest Nobel Laureate- Leonid Hurwicz for Economics in 2007
Nobel Prize winners from India
• Till now 12 Indians (5 Indian citizens and 7 of Indian origin or residency) have been awarded Nobel Prize.
• The first person of Indian origin and also first Asian to be awarded the Nobel Prize was Rabindranath Tagore for his works "Gitanjali" in 1913.
• First Indian recipient of Nobel Prize in Physics was C. V. Raman for his work on the scattering of light and for the discovery of the effect named after him" in 1930.
• First Indian recipient of Nobel Prize for Peace was Mother Teresa in 1979.
• First Indian recipient of Nobel Prize in Economics was Amartya Senin 1998.
• First Indian recipient of Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicinewas Har Gobind Khorana for their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis in 1968.
• First Indian recipient of Nobel Prize in Chemistry was Venkatraman Ramakrishnan for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome in 2009.
• The only woman from India in the list of Nobel Prize recipient is Mother Teresa.
The following Indians have been awarded Nobel Prizes in various fields, so far:
• Rabindranath Tagore is an India’s popular poet and writer. He was awarded Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for his “Geetanjali” a collection of his poems.
Chandra Shekar Venkata Raman/Sir C V Raman-1930
• Sir.C.V. Raman, an Indian Scientist / Physicist was awarded Nobel Prize of Physics in 1930 for his “Raman Effect” related to light.
Dr. Hargobind Khorana-1968
• Dr. Hargobind Khorana, an India’s Doctorate in Chemistry was awarded Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1968 for his study of the Human Genetic Code and its role in Protein Synthesis.
• Mother Teresa is a Yogoslavian nun who became an Indian citizen. She was awarded Nobel Prize for Peace in 1979, for her service through her Charitable Mission “Nirmal Hriday” at Calcutta to people suffering from Leprosy and to those people dying in destitute.
Dr Subramanian Chandrashekar-1983
• Dr Subramanian Chandrashekar, an Indian Astro-Physicist was awarded Nobel Prize for Physics in 1983 for his theory on white dwarf stars’ limitation known as ‘Chandrasekhar Limit’. Dr.Subramaniyan is the son of the elder brother of the ‘Nobel Prize Winner’-Sir C.V.Raman.
Dr Amatya Sen-1998
• Dr Amatya Sen, an Indian Professor in Economics was awarded Nobel Prize for Economics in 1998 for his work in Economic Theory related to Poverty, Democracy, Development and Social Welfare.
Dr Venkataraman Ramakrishnan-2009
• Dr Venkataraman Ramakrishnan, an Indo-American has shared Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the year 2009, along with a co-American Thomas Steitz and Ada Yonath of Israel for mapping ribosomes, the protein procucing factories within cells at the atomic level.
Mr Kailash Satyarthi -2014
• Mr Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian Children’s rights activist had been awarded the “Nobel Prize For Peace” for the year 2014, jointly with Ms.Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan (17 years old Children’s rights activist of Pakistan) for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.
The following is a List of Nobel Prize Winners of Persons of Indian Origin and the Citizens of other countries or of Persons of other countries whos received the Nobel Prize for their works related to India:
• Rudyard Kipling, a British Poet and Writer. And he has been awarded Nobel Prize for Literature for his works in Literature such as Poems and Short Stories related to India and Burma/ Myanmar.
Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul-2001
Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, a British Writer of Indian Origin was awarded Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001. Also remember, you should know brief details of achievement for which the prizes were awarded. For example S. Chandrashekhar was awarded the Physics Nobel for his theory on white dwarf stars’ limitation known as ‘Chandrasekhar Limit’. If you have any further queries on Nobel prizes, feel free to ask them in the comments below. The Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology is administered by the Nobel Foundation and is awarded for exceptional discoveries in the field of medicine and life sciences. The discoveries must have significantly enhanced the understanding of life or practice of medicine. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the Swedish chemist and the inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel. It is first of the Nobel Prizes awarded every year. The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute chooses the winners.
List of 2017 Nobel Prize winners
Nobel Prize in Medicine
The 108th Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine has been awarded to a trio of American scientists for their discoveries on the molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythms. The prize shared between American scientists Jeffrey C Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W Young for work on the internal clock of living organisms.
Area of discovery
The team identified a gene within fruit flies that controls the creatures’ daily rhythm, known as the “period” gene. This gene encodes a protein within the cell during the night which then degrades during the day. The team’s discoveries also helped to explain the mechanism by which light can synchronise the clock. The work was important for the basic understanding of life. The 2017 Prize underlines the continuing importance of Drosophila in the world of genetics and the Nobel.
Drosophila melanogaster is a prolific breeder and has a short generation time, and that its genome has just four pairs of chromosomes.
Why do scientists investigate flies?
After the genome was sequenced in 2000, it was found that an astounding 60% of fruit fly genes are also present in humans in a similar form. Germany’s Max Planck Society says that “around 75% of the genes which are known to cause illnesses in humans also occur in flies, and Drosophila possesses more than 90% of the genes that can trigger cancer in humans. Scientists worked to create disease-free organisms (eugenics). It was discovered that it was easy to modify the fruit fly genome to understand how genotype alters phenotype.
Significance of research in this field
Research on the body clock has helped scientists improve health. Many drugs now on the market work best when taken at the right time. The cholesterol-cutting drug Mevacor, for example, is taken at night because levels of the enzyme it targets are highest then. The same is true for low-dose aspirin used to reduce blood pressure.
Previous prize winners
Herman Muller, won the 1946 Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering that the fruit fly gene could be altered by radiation. George W Beadle who, along with Edward L Tatum won one half of the 1958 Prize for their discovery that genes act by regulating definite chemical events.
In 1995, three development biologists, Edward B Lewis, Christiane Nusslein-Volhard and Eric F Wieschaus, won the Prize for discovering the role of key genes in the development of the fruit fly embryo that also plays a crucial role in human embryonic development. Last year the prize was won by Yoshinori Ohsumi, a Japanese cell biologist who unpicked the mechanisms by which the body break downs and recycles components of cells – a process that guards against various diseases, including cancer and diabetes.
Nobel Prize in Physics
Detectors of Ripple in Space-time: The Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded 111 times to 207 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2017. John Bardeen is the only Nobel Laureate who has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics twice, in 1956 and 1972. This means that a total of 206 individuals have received the Nobel Prize in Physics and this time the Noble Prize has been awarded to three American physicists.
Three American physicists (Dr. Weiss, 85, Dr. Thorne, 77, and Dr. Barish, 81) have won the Nobel prize in physics for the first observations of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space time that were anticipated by Albert Einstein a century ago.
The Ligo detections finally confirmed Einstein’s century-old prediction that during cataclysmic events the fabric of space times itself can be stretched and squeezed, sending gravitational tremors out across the universe like ripples on a pond.
LIGO is run by the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It's funded by the National Science Foundation. The LIGO Scientific Collaboration now includes more than 100 institutions and 18 countries.
The direct detection of gravitational waves opens a new vista on the “dark” side of the cosmos, to times and places from which no optical light escapes. Gravitational waves are an entirely new way of observing the universe.
This includes just fractions of a second after the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago, when scientists believe gravitational waves left a permanent imprint on the cosmos that may still be perceptible today. Gravitational waves could also help physicists to understand the fundamental laws of the universe. Gravitational waves are, in fact, a crucial part of Einstein's general theory of relativity.
U.S. astrophysicists Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne and were awarded the Nobel Physics Prize for the discovery of gravitational waves — a phenomenon that opens a door on the extreme Universe. Predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago as part of his theory of general relativity, but only detected in 2015, gravitational waves are “ripples” in space-time, as the theoretical fabric of the cosmos is called.
They are caused by ultra-violent processes, such as colliding black holes or the collapse of stellar cores. “Their discovery shook the world,” said Goran K. Hansson, the head of the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, which selects the Nobel recipients. They made their discovery in September 2015 and announced it in February 2016, a historic achievement that culminated from decades of scientific research. And since then, they have clinched all the major astrophysics prizes to be had.
Mr. Thorne and Mr. Weiss co-created the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) at the prestigious California Institute of Technology, which has taken home 18 Nobels since the prizes were first awarded in 1901.
Mr. Barish then brought the project to completion. The first-ever direct observation of gravitational waves was the result of an event some 1.3 billion light years away. “Although the signal was weak when it reached Earth, it is already promising a revolution in astrophysics.
Gravitational waves are an entirely new way of following the most violent events in space and testing the limits of our knowledge,” the Academy said. Since 2015, the enigmatic ripples have been detected three more times: twice more by LIGO and once by the Virgo detector located at the European Gravitational Observatory in Cascina, Italy.
Why did they win?
Dr. Weiss, 85, Dr. Thorne, 77, and Dr. Barish, 81, were the architects and leaders of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, the instrument that detected the gravitational waves, which in 2015 made the first historic observation of gravitational waves triggered by the violent merger of two black holes a billion light years away.
Who are the winners?
Dr. Weiss was born in Berlin in 1932 and came to New York in 1939. As a high school student, he became an expert in building high-quality sound systems and entered M.I.T. intending to major in electrical engineering.
He went to work in a physics lab and wound up with a Ph.D. from M.I.T. Dr. Thorne was born and raised in Logan, Utah, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Caltech and then a Ph.D. from Princeton under the tutelage of John Archibald Wheeler, an evangelist for Einstein’s theory who popularized the term black holes.
Dr. Barish was born in Omaha, Neb., and studied physics at the University of California, Berkeley, getting a doctorate there before joining Caltech. One of the mandarins of Big Science, he had led a team that designed a $1 billion detector for the giant Superconducting Supercollider, which would have been the world’s biggest particle machine.
Last year’s prize went to three British physicists for their work on exotic states of matter that may pave the way for quantum computers and other revolutionary technologies.
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Jacques Dubochet (University of Lausanne, Switzerland) Joachim Frank (Columbia University, New York) and Richard Henderson (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, U.K.) "for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution".
For many years — in the 1970s, the electron microscope was the only way to look into the cell and observe the minute beings that play such an important role in our lives such as viruses.
However, the powerful beam of the electron microscope would destroy biological material, so it was believed that such microscopy could only reveal images of dead cells and dead organisms. Also it was then impossible to view solutions as water would evaporate under the microscope’s vacuum. That was until this year’s laureate Richard Henderson came on to the scene. To get the sharpest images he travelled to the best electron microscopes in the world.
They all had their weaknesses, but complemented each other. Finally, in 1990, 15 years after he had published the first model, Prof. Henderson achieved his goal and was able to present a structure of bacteriorhodopsin at atomic resolution.
However the problem still remained of imaging biological molecules which got destroyed when the electron beam of the microscope was focused on them at normal temperatures. “Cryo”, short for cryogenic refers to very low temperatures. Though the actual temperature is not well defined, it is below minus 150°C.
In the context of electron microscopy, it refers to the fact that the object to be imaged is frozen to such low temperatures to facilitate being studied under the beam of the electron microscope.
This method is so effective that even in recent times, it has been used to image the elusive Zika virus: When researchers began to suspect that the Zika virus was causing the epidemic of brain-damaged newborns in Brazil, they turned to cryo-EM to visualise the virus. Over a few months, three-dimensional (3D) images of the virus at atomic resolution were generated and researchers could start searching for potential targets for pharmaceuticals.
The question was whether the method could be generalised: would it be possible to use an electron microscope to generate high-resolution 3D images of proteins that were randomly scattered in the sample and oriented in different directions?
Prof. Frank had long worked to find a solution to just that problem.
In 1975, he presented a theoretical strategy where the apparently minimal information found in the electron microscopes two-dimensional images could be merged to generate a high-resolution, three-dimensional whole.
Between 1975 and 1986, Prof. Frank succeeded in merging two fuzzy images of a molecule to get a three-dimensional image.
In 1978, Prof. Dubochet was recruited to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg to solve another of the electron microscopes basic problems: how biological samples dry out and are damaged when exposed to a vacuum.
The solution he envisaged was to freeze water rapidly so that instead of solidifying into a crystalline solid, it freezes into a disordered state, which is like a glass. Though a glass appears to be solid, it is actually what is called a supercooled liquid in which individual molecules are arranged at random instead of a periodic crystalline solid structure.
Prof. Dubochet realised that if he could freeze the water to form a glassy state, what is known as vitrified water, it would not dry up when excited by the beam. In the early 1980s, Prof. Dubochet cooled water so rapidly that it solidified in its liquid form around a biological sample, allowing the biomolecules to retain their natural shape even in a vacuum. In 1984, he published the first images of a number of different viruses, round and hexagonal, that are shown in sharp contrast against the background of vitrified water.
Nobel Prize in Economics
The Nobel economics prize has been awarded to Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago for his contributions to behavioural economics.
The 9-million-kronor (USD 1.1-million) prize was awarded to the academic for his “understanding the psychology of economics,” Swedish Academy of Sciences secretary Goeran Hansson said.
The Nobel committee said Thaler’s work shows how human traits affect individual decisions as well as market outcomes. Thaler, 72, “is a pioneer in behavioural economics, a research field in which insights from psychological research are applied to economic decision making,” a background paper from the academy said. That “incorporates more realistic analysis of how people think and behave when making economic decisions,”.
Thaler's contributions have built a bridge between the economic and psychological analyses of individual decision-making. His empirical findings and theoretical insights have been instrumental in creating the new and rapidly expanding field of behavioural economics, which has had a profound impact on many areas of economic research and policy. Thaler is a Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
He is the co-author (with Cass R. Sunstein) of the global best seller Nudge (2008) in which the concepts of behavioral economics are used to tackle many of society’s major problems. The economics prize is something of an outlier, Alfred Nobel’s will didn’t call for its establishment and it honours a science that many doubt is a science at all. The Sveriges Riksbank (Swedish National Bank) Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was first awarded in 1969, nearly seven decades after the series of prestigious prizes that Nobel called for. Despite its provenance and carefully laborious name, it is broadly considered an equal to the other Nobel and the winner attends the famed presentation banquet. Last year, Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström shared the prize for their contributions to contract theory. Indian economist Amartya Sen won the Nobel in 1998 for his contributions to welfare economic.
The Nobel Prize in Literature
• The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded by the Swedish Academy, Stockholm, Sweden.
• 110 Nobel Prizes in Literature have been awarded 1901-2017.
• 14 women have been awarded the Literature Prize so far.
• 41 years was the age of the youngest Literature Laureate ever, Rudyard Kipling, best known for The Jungle Book.
• 88 years was the age of the oldest Literature Laureate ever, Doris Lessing, when she was awarded the Prize in 2007.
The Nobel Peace Prize
• The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a committee of five persons who are chosen by the Norwegian Storting (Parliament of Norway).
• 98 Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded 1901-2017.
• 16 women have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize so far.
• 1 Peace Prize Laureate, Le Duc Tho, has declined the Nobel Peace Prize.
• Malala Yousafzai (17) is the youngest to win Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.