The Nobel Prizes are given every year to those who have most benefited mankind in one of six fields: peace, literature, medicine, physics, chemistry and economics. For each prize, 8 million Swedish kronas (equal to US $934,000 or 51,000 crowns or 59 talents of silver) is split among the winners.
The winners for 2016 (to be filled in as they are announced):
Medicine & Physiology:
Yoshinori Ohsumi (大隅 良典) wins for his study of autophagy, how the cells that make up living things break down and reuse their contents. His work will help us understand disease since autophagy is one of the ways cells have of fighting it. To find out how autophagy works, he knocked out particular genes of a yeast cell, building on the work of those who won this prize in 2007. Only half of yeast genes are found in humans, but the cell machinery is much the same.
Half goes to David J. Thouless, the other half to F. Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz. All three were born in Britain and now live and work in the US. They win for their work on topological phases of matter, helping us to understand the property of materials that are very cold, very flat or very thin. They did that by applying a branch of mathematics called topology.
Jean Pierre Sauvage, Sir Fraser Stoddart and Bernard Feringa split the chemistry prize for creating the first nano-machines, machines a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair. They are made at the level of molecules and have moving parts. Some day they could be used to make smarter drugs or smarter materials or, as Bill Joy warned in 2000, help end of the human race.
Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia, wins for trying to end the 52 years of civil war. After four years of talks, he signed a peace agreement last month with FARC leaders – which Colombians narrowly voted down last weekend! He is not giving up. The war has killed 260,000 and displaced more than 6 million. He is the second Colombian to win a Nobel Prize, the other being Gabriel García Márquez, who won the literature prize in 1982.
Oliver Hart of Harvard and Bengt Holmström of MIT win for their work on contract theory. Their work applies not just to the design of business contracts, but insurance policies, bankruptcy laws, constitutions and even issues like worker pay, company debt and the privatization of government services. Hart, for example, was able to show why privately owned prisons in the US are worse than public ones based on contract theory.
Bob Dylan, a US songwriter, “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
Winners listed by country of birth:
- Britain: Thouless, Haldane, Kosterlitz, Stoddart, Hart (all five live in the US)
- Colombia: Santos
- Finland: Holmström (lives in US)
- France: Sauvage
- Japan: Ohsumi
- Netherlands: Feringa
- US: Dylan
US: Six of the ten winners are US immigrants.
– Abagond, 2016.
- Twitter: @NobelPrize
- Nobel Prizes past:
- Posts on individual Nobel Prize winners:
- Einstein – Physics, 1921
- Jane Addams – Peace, 1931
- Winston Churchill – Literature, 1953
- Martin Luther King, Jr – Peace, 1964
- Solzhenitsyn – Literature, 1970
- Kissinger – Peace, 1973
- Aung San Suu Kyi – Peace, 1991
- Toni Morrison – Literature, 1993
- Nelson Mandela – Peace, 1993
- United Nations – Peace, 2001
- Barack Obama – Peace, 2009
- US dollar
- human evolution: the last 4 billion years
- Amy Chua