Established over a century ago, the Nobel Prize is the most prestigious recognition, honoring outstanding contributions to humanity across a range of fields, from physics and chemistry to medicine, literature, and peace efforts.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2023 to Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz, and Anne L’Huillier whose experiments “have given humanity new tools for exploring the world of electrons inside atoms and molecules”.
The way a rapid series of images can create an illusion of continuous motion, fast-moving events have a tendency to flow into each other when perceived by the human eye.
To investigate exceedingly brief occurrences, specialized technology is imperative. When we talk about electrons, transformations transpire in mere tenths of an attosecond — an attosecond’s brevity is such that there exist as many attoseconds in one second as there have been seconds since the birth of the universe.
The laureates’ experiments have generated ultra-short pulses of light, measured in attoseconds, showcasing their ability to capture images of processes transpiring within atoms and molecules.
“We can now open the door to the world of electrons. Attosecond physics gives us the opportunity to understand mechanisms that are governed by electrons. The next step will be utilizing them,” says Eva Olsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics.
A worthwhile application of this technology involves examining molecular-level alterations in blood as a means of disease identification.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2023 to Moungi G. Bawendi, Louis E. Brus, and Alexei I. Ekimov “for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots”.
Anyone who studies chemistry is aware of the fact that an element’s characteristics are determined by its electron count. Nevertheless, when matter diminishes to nano-scale dimensions, it gives rise to quantum phenomena, which are dictated by the matter’s size.
The 2023 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have managed to create particles of such minute dimensions that their attributes are influenced by quantum phenomena. These particles, known as quantum dots, have become highly significant in the realm of nanotechnology.
“Quantum dots have many fascinating and unusual properties. Importantly, they have different colors depending on their size,” says Johan Åqvist, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.
The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institutet has awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman “for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19”.
With their groundbreaking discoveries, which have fundamentally reshaped our comprehension of how mRNA interacts with our immune system, the laureates have played a pivotal role in accelerating vaccine development at an unprecedented pace during one of the most significant health crises in modern history.
In the 1980s, a breakthrough occurred with the introduction of efficient methods for producing mRNA without the need for cell culture, known as in vitro transcription. This advancement expedited the progress of molecular biology applications. The notion of harnessing mRNA technologies for vaccines and therapies began to gain traction, but it was not without challenges.
However, the hurdles did not deter the Hungarian biochemist, Katalin Karikó, who remained committed to pioneering methods for therapeutic mRNA utilization.
Katalin Karikó gained a new colleague at her university, the immunologist Drew Weissman.
Motivated by fresh insights, the two initiated a productive collaboration, centered on exploring the interactions between various RNA types and the immune system.
The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2023 is awarded to the Norwegian author Jon Fosse, “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable”.
His extensive œuvre, composed in Nynorsk — a literary form of the Norwegian language — and encompassing a diverse range of genres, includes a treasure trove of plays, novels, poetry collections, essays, children’s literature, and translations.
Although he now ranks among the most frequently staged playwrights globally, his contributions to prose have also garnered growing acclaim.
His debut novel in 1983, Raudt, svart (Red, Black) was as rebellious as it was emotionally charged, tackling the sensitive topic of suicide and setting a tone that would resonate throughout his subsequent writings.
“While Fosse shares the negative outlook of his predecessors, his particular gnostic vision cannot be said to result in a nihilistic contempt of the world. Indeed, there is great warmth and humour in his work, and a naïve vulnerability to his stark images of human experience,” said Anders Olsson, chairman of the Nobel Committee, The Swedish Academy.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2023 to Narges Mohammadi “for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all”.
In September of 2022, a tragic incident occurred involving the death of Mahsa Jina Amini, a young Kurdish woman, while she was under the custody of the Iranian morality police.
This event served as a catalyst for the largest political demonstrations witnessed against Iran’s theocratic regime since its establishment in 1979. Under the rallying cry of “Woman – Life – Freedom,” hundreds of thousands of Iranians united in peaceful protests to decry the harsh treatment and oppression of women by the authorities.
“Narges Mohammadi’s brave struggle has come with tremendous personal costs. Altogether, the regime has arrested her 13 times, convicted her five times, and sentenced her to a total of 31 years in prison and 154 lashes. Ms Mohammadi is still in prison as I speak,” said Nobel Committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen.
“This year’s Peace Prize also recognises the hundreds of thousands of people who, in the preceding year, have demonstrated against the theocratic regime’s policies of discrimination and oppression targeting women. Only by embracing equal rights for all can the world achieve the fraternity between nations that Alfred Nobel sought to promote,” she added.
The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2023
The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2023 was awarded to Claudia Goldin “for having advanced our understanding of women’s labour market outcomes”
Goldin was the first to offer a comprehensive examination of women’s earnings and their involvement in the labor market across various historical periods. Her research not only sheds light on the factors driving change but also identifies the primary contributors to the persisting gender wage gap.
“Understanding women’s role in the labor market is important for society. Thanks to Claudia Goldin’s groundbreaking research we now know much more about the underlying factors and which barriers may need to be addressed in the future,” says Jakob Svensson, Chair of the Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences.
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