The Nobel Prizes are five separate prizes according to Alfred Nobel’s will of 1895, which are awarded to “those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.” Nobel Prizes are awarded in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace. Nobel Prizes are widely regarded as the most prestigious awards available in their respective fields. The prize ceremonies take place annually. Each recipient (known as a “laureate”) receives a gold medal, a diploma, and a monetary award.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee is responsible for nominating and finally selecting a Nobel Laureate every year in accordance with the will of Alfred Nobel. The Nobel Prize Winners (Laureates) were announced from October 3, 2022 and will continue till October 10, 2022 and the Economics Prize will be awarded on October 10.
About Alfred Nobel’s life
Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) was born in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 21, 1833. His family was descended from Olof Rudbeck, the best-known technical genius in Sweden in the 17th century, an era in which Sweden was a great power in northern Europe. Nobel was fluent in several languages, and wrote poetry and drama. Nobel was also very interested in social and peace-related issues, and held views that were considered radical during his time. Alfred Nobel’s interests are reflected in the prize he established.
THE NOBEL PHYSICS PRIZE
Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger have each conducted groundbreaking experiments using entangled quantum states, where two particles behave like a single unit even when they are separated. Their results have cleared the way for new technology based upon quantum information.
The ineffable effects of quantum mechanics are starting to find applications. There is now a large field of research that includes quantum computers, quantum networks and secure quantum encrypted communication.
One key factor in this development is how quantum mechanics allows two or more particles to exist in what is called an entangled state. What happens to one of the particles in an entangled pair determines what happens to the other particle, even if they are far apart.
For a long time, the question was whether the correlation was because the particles in an entangled pair contained hidden variables, instructions that tell them which result they should give in an experiment. In the 1960s, John Stewart Bell developed the mathematical inequality that is named after him. This states that if there are hidden variables, the correlation between the results of a large number of measurements will never exceed a certain value. However, quantum mechanics predicts that a certain type of experiment will violate Bell’s inequality, thus resulting in a stronger correlation than would otherwise be possible.
John Clauser (J.F. Clauser & Assoc., Walnut Creek, CA, USA) developed John Bell’s ideas, leading to a practical experiment. When he took the measurements, they supported quantum mechanics by clearly violating a Bell inequality. This means that quantum mechanics cannot be replaced by a theory that uses hidden variables.
Some loopholes remained after John Clauser’s experiment. Alain Aspect (Université Paris-Saclay and Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France) developed the setup, using it in a way that closed an important loophole. He was able to switch the measurement settings after an entangled pair had left its source, so the setting that existed when they were emitted could not affect the result.
Using refined tools and a long series of experiments, Anton Zeilinger (University of Vienna, Austria) started to use entangled quantum states. Among other things, his research group has demonstrated a phenomenon called quantum teleportation, which makes it possible to move a quantum state from one particle to one at a distance.
“It has become increasingly clear that a new kind of quantum technology is emerging. We can see that the laureates’ work with entangled states is of great importance, even beyond the fundamental questions about the interpretation of quantum mechanics,” says Anders Irbäck, Chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics.
THE NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2022 is about making difficult processes easier. Barry Sharpless and Morten Meldal have laid the foundation for a functional form of chemistry – in which molecular building blocks snap together quickly and efficiently. Carolyn Bertozzi has taken click chemistry to a new dimension and started utilising it in living organisms.
Chemists have long been driven by the desire to build increasingly complicated molecules. In pharmaceutical research, this has often involved artificially recreating natural molecules with medicinal properties. This has led to many admirable molecular constructions, but these are generally time consuming and very expensive to produce.
“This year’s Prize in Chemistry deals with not overcomplicating matters, instead working with what is easy and simple. Functional molecules can be built even by taking a straightforward route,” says Johan Åqvist, Chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.
Barry Sharpless – who is now being awarded his second Nobel Prize in Chemistry – started the ball rolling. Around the year 2000, he coined the concept of click chemistry, which is a form of simple and reliable chemistry, where reactions occur quickly and unwanted by-products are avoided.
Shortly afterwards, Morten Meldal and Barry Sharpless – independently of each other – presented what is now the crown jewel of click chemistry: the copper catalysed azide-alkyne cycloaddition. This is an elegant and efficient chemical reaction that is now in widespread use. Among many other uses, it is utilized in the development of pharmaceuticals, for mapping DNA and creating materials that are fit for purpose.
Carolyn Bertozzi took click chemistry to a new level. To map important but elusive biomolecules on the surface of cell glycans – she developed click reactions that work inside living organisms. Her bioorthogonal reactions take place without disrupting the normal chemistry of the cell.
These reactions are now used globally to explore cells and track biological processes. Using bioorthogonal reactions, researchers have improved the targeting of cancer pharmaceuticals, which are now being tested in clinical trials.
Click chemistry and bioorthogonal reactions have taken chemistry into the era of functionalism. This is bringing the greatest benefit to humankind.
THE NOBEL PRIZE IN MEDICINE
The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institutet has decided to award the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Svante Paabo “for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution”.
Considered the most prestigious prize in the scientific world, it is awarded by the Nobel Assembly of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($900,357).
Svante Pääbo (born on April 20, 1955) is a Swedish geneticist specialising in the field of evolutionary genetics and a Nobel Prize laureate. As one of the founders of paleogenetics, he has worked extensively on the Neanderthal genome. He was appointed director of the Department of Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany in 1997. He is also a professor at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan.
Through his pioneering research, Svante Pääbo accomplished something seemingly impossible: sequencing the genome of the Neanderthal, an extinct relative of present-day humans. He also made the sensational discovery of a previously unknown hominin, Denisova. Importantly, Pääbo also found that gene transfer had occurred from these now extinct hominins to Homo sapiens following the migration out of Africa around 70,000 years ago. This ancient flow of genes to present-day humans has physiological relevance today, for example affecting how our immune system reacts to infections.
In 1990, Pääbo was recruited to the University of Munich, where, as a newly appointed Professor, he continued his work on archaic DNA. He decided to analyze DNA from Neanderthal mitochondria – organelles in cells that contain their own DNA. The mitochondrial genome is small and contains only a fraction of the genetic information in the cell, but it is present in thousands of copies, increasing the chance of success.
THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE
The Nobel Prize in Literature 2022 was awarded to Annie Ernaux “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory”.
Annie Ernaux is a French national. Annie Ernaux is 82 years old. Ernaux was born in 1940 and grew up in a working-class Catholic family in Yvetot, a small town in Normandy where her parents had a grocery store and cafe.
She has authored more than 20 books, many of which have been school texts in France for decades. Her writings offer one of the most subtle, insightful windows into the social life of modern France.
Personal experiences are the source for all of Ms. Ernaux’s work and she is the pioneer of France’s “autofiction” genre, which gives narrative form to real-life experience.
The experiences she wrote about in the 1980s and 1990s- an unwanted pregnancy and abortion, her love affairs, her ambivalence about marriage and motherhood- were considered shocking by some social conservatives, but resonated deeply with a broad readership.
THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2022 to one individual and two organisations.
The Peace Prize laureates represent civil society in their home countries. They have for many years promoted the right to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens. They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power. Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy.
This year’s Peace Prize is awarded to human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, the Russian human rights organisation Memorial and the Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties.
Ales Bialiatski was one of the initiators of the democracy movement that emerged in Belarus in the mid-1980s. He has devoted his life to promoting democracy and peaceful development in his home country. Among other things, he founded the organisation Viasna (Spring) in 1996 in response to the controversial constitutional amendments that gave the president dictatorial powers and that triggered widespread demonstrations. Viasna provided support for the jailed demonstrators and their families. In the years that followed, Viasna evolved into a broad-based human rights organisation that documented and protested against the authorities’ use of torture against political prisoners.
Government authorities have repeatedly sought to silence Ales Bialiatski. He was imprisoned from 2011 to 2014. Following large-scale demonstrations against the regime in 2020, he was again arrested. He is still detained without trial. Despite tremendous personal hardship, Mr Bialiatski has not yielded an inch in his fight for human rights and democracy in Belarus.
The human rights organisation Memorial was established in 1987 by human rights activists in the former Soviet Union who wanted to ensure that the victims of the communist regime’s oppression would never be forgotten. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov and human rights advocate Svetlana Gannushkina were among the founders. Memorial is based on the notion that confronting past crimes is essential in preventing new ones.
When civil society must give way to autocracy and dictatorship, peace is often the next victim. During the Chechen wars, Memorial gathered and verified information on abuses and war crimes perpetrated on the civilian population by Russian and pro-Russian forces. In 2009, the head of Memorial’s branch in Chechnya, Natalia Estemirova, was killed because of this work.
Civil society actors in Russia have been subjected to threats, imprisonment, disappearance and murder for many years. As part of the government’s harassment of Memorial, the organisation was stamped early on as a “foreign agent”. In December 2021, the authorities decided that Memorial was to be forcibly liquidated and the documentation centre was to be closed permanently. The closures became effective in the following months, but the people behind Memorial refuse to be shut down. In a comment on the forced dissolution, chairman Yan Rachinsky stated, “Nobody plans to give up.”
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Memorial grew to become the largest human rights organisation in Russia. In addition to establishing a centre of documentation on victims of the Stalinist era, Memorial compiled and systematised information on political oppression and human rights violations in Russia. Memorial became the most authoritative source of information on political prisoners in Russian detention facilities. The organisation has also been standing at the forefront of efforts to combat militarism and promote human rights and government based on rule of law.
The Center for Civil Liberties was founded in Kyiv in 2007 for the purpose of advancing human rights and democracy in Ukraine. The center has taken a stand to strengthen Ukrainian civil society and pressure the authorities to make Ukraine a full-fledged democracy. To develop Ukraine into a state governed by rule of law, Center for Civil Liberties has actively advocated that Ukraine become affiliated with the International Criminal Court.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Center for Civil Liberties has engaged in efforts to identify and document Russian war crimes against the Ukrainian civilian population. In collaboration with international partners, the center is playing a pioneering role with a view to holding the guilty parties accountable for their crimes.
By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2022 to Ales Bialiatski, Memorial and the Center for Civil Liberties, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honour three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy and peaceful co-existence in the neighbour countries Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Through their consistent efforts in favour of humanist values, anti-militarism and principles of law, this year’s laureates have revitalised and honoured Alfred Nobel’s vision of peace and fraternity between nations – a vision most needed in the world today.
THE NOBEL ECONOMICS PRIZE
The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2022 was awarded to Ben S. Bernanke, Douglas W. Diamond, Philip H. Dybvig “for research on banks and financial crises”.
The Great Depression of the 1930s paralysed the world’s economies for many years and had vast societal consequences. However, we have managed subsequent financial crises better thanks to research insights from this year’s laureates. They have demonstrated the importance of preventing widespread bank collapses.
The committee said that the three laureates have significantly improved our understanding of the role of banks in the economy, particularly during financial crises, and an important finding in their research is why avoiding bank collapses is vital.
“Modern banking research clarifies why we have banks, how to make them less vulnerable in crises and how bank collapses exacerbate financial crises. The foundations of this research were laid by Ben Bernanke, Douglas Diamond, and Philip Dybvig in the early 1980s. Their analyses have been of great practical importance in regulating financial markets and dealing with financial crises” .