By Simona Zaunius
Nobel Prizes, possibly the biggest honor in the world, have been announced for 2016. The Nobel Prizes were established by Alfred Nobel. They are awarded by boards of deputies that are given the job by Swedish learning societies, with the exception of the Peace Prize, given by the Norwegian Parliament. There are six categories of Nobel prizes; Peace, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Literature, and Economic Sciences. Each winner receives a diploma, a gold medal, and approximately 1.5 million dollars.
This year, the Nobel prize for Physiology or Medicine went to Yoshinori Ohsumi for his discoveries in autophagy, which is the process of cells recycling themselves. Disruptions in this process can lead to cancer, infectious diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, immunological diseases and aging. Before Ohsumi, not much was known about autophagy. His work opened up an entirely new field of study.
The award for Physics was split between three people. One half of the prize was given to David Thouless, and the other half was split between Duncan Huldane and Michael Kosterlitz. The Nobel Foundation stated that “This year’s laureates opened the door on an unknown world where matter can assume strange states,” https://www.quantamagazine.org/ explained that “Thouless realized that the electrons inside the conducting material couldn’t be viewed as individual entities; instead they had to be approached as a single collection that could only take on integer values of conductance — zero, one or two, but never one and a half. Thouless, Haldane and Kosterlitz pioneered the mathematical description of quantum materials in thin films and in one-dimensional objects (such as a chain of atoms) by borrowing concepts such as this one from topology,”
The Nobel prize for Chemistry went to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, and Bernard L. Feringa. They were given the award for “the design and synthesis of molecular machines”. This means nanotechnology, or machines the size of molecules. These could help in the military, could get rid of diseases, and help construct miniscule things.
The Nobel Peace Prize, arguably the most famous of all the prizes, went to Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia. He was given this award for going above and beyond to create a peace treaty between Colombia and the Farc Rebels. Though the Columbians rejected the treaty, he was given the award because the Nobel committee “recognised the president’s ‘resolute efforts’ to end the conflict.” There has been some controversy over the award, because some people feel he got the award just for doing his job. Kaci Kullman V replies, “The award should also be seen as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process,”
Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom won the Nobel prize in Economic Sciences. The two addressed questions on how to best reward executives to whether schools and prisons should be owned privately. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences stated that “Their findings on contract theory have implications in such areas as corporate governance, bankruptcy legislation and political constitutions,”
Finally, the Nobel Prize in Literature went to singer/songwriter, Bob Dylan. Dylan has been compared to Homer and Sappho. Though his work is different from the typical novels, poems, and short stories, the Swedish Academy gave him this award for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,”
This year all the winners were male, six of which were based at universities. Receiving a Nobel prize is a great honor. Winners say the award is miles better than the money or medals. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners, and many thanks for how they changed the world.