nobel prize (20)

Economics...

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Topics: Economics, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize

Prize announcement. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2023. Mon. 9 Oct 2023. < https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/2023/prize-announcement/ >

9 October 2023

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2023 to

Claudia Goldin
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

“for having advanced our understanding of women’s labor market outcomes”

She uncovered key drivers of gender differences in the labor market

This year’s Laureate in the Economic Sciences, Claudia Goldin, provided the first comprehensive account of women’s earnings and labor market participation through the centuries. Her research reveals the causes of change, as well as the main sources of the remaining gender gap.

Women are vastly underrepresented in the global labor market, and when they work, they earn less than men. Claudia Goldin has trawled the archives and collected over 200 years of data from the US, allowing her to demonstrate how and why gender differences in earnings and employment rates have changed over time.

Goldin showed that female participation in the labor market did not have an upward trend over this entire period but instead formed a U-shaped curve. The participation of married women decreased with the transition from an agrarian to an industrial society in the early nineteenth century but then started to increase with the growth of the service sector in the early twentieth century. Goldin explained this pattern as the result of structural change and evolving social norms regarding women’s responsibilities for home and family.

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Literature...

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Topics: Literature, Nobel Laurate, Nobel Prize

Press release. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2023. Thu. 5 Oct 2023. < https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/2023/press-release/ >

The Permanent Secretary

Press release
5 October 2023

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2023

Jon Fosse

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.”

Publisher's Weekly: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/authorpage/jon-fosse.html

Amazon, Six Plays: https://www.amazon.com/Fosse-Plays-Oberon-Modern-Playwrights/dp/1783190868

Jon Fosse reads from ‘A New Name: Septology VI-VII: https://youtu.be/Xr27eNW0MkY?si=LacBHRUro_-WWhnA

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Chemistry...

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Topics: Chemistry, Nanomaterials, Nanotechnology, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize

Prize announcement. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2023. Wed. 4 Oct 2023. < https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2023/prize-announcement/ >

4 October 2023

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2023 to

Moungi G. Bawendi
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA

Louis E. Brus
Columbia University, New York, NY, USA

Alexei I. Ekimov
Nanocrystals Technology Inc., New York, NY, USA

“for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots”

They planted an important seed for nanotechnology

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2023 rewards the discovery and development of quantum dots, nanoparticles so tiny that their size determines their properties. These smallest components of nanotechnology now spread their light from televisions and LED lamps and can also guide surgeons when they remove tumor tissue, among many other things.

Everyone who studies chemistry learns that an element’s properties are governed by how many electrons it has. However, when matter shrinks to nano-dimensions, quantum phenomena arise; these are governed by the size of the matter. The Nobel Laureates in Chemistry 2023 have succeeded in producing particles so small that their properties are determined by quantum phenomena. The particles, which are called quantum dots, are now of great importance in 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.

Physicists had long known that, in theory, size-dependent quantum effects could arise in nanoparticles, but at that time, it was almost impossible to sculpt in nanodimensions. Therefore, few people believed that this knowledge would be put to practical use.

However, in the early 1980s, Alexei Ekimov succeeded in creating size-dependent quantum effects in colored glass. The color came from nanoparticles of copper chloride, and Ekimov demonstrated that the particle size affected the color of the glass via quantum effects.

A few years later, Louis Brus was the first scientist in the world to prove size-dependent quantum effects in particles floating freely in a fluid.

In 1993, Moungi Bawendi revolutionized the chemical production of quantum dots, resulting in almost perfect particles. This high quality was necessary for them to be utilized in applications.

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Physics...

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Topics: Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize, Physics

 

Prize announcement. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2023. Tue. 3 Oct 2023. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/2023/prize-announcement/>

 

3 October 2022

 

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2023 to

 

Pierre Agostini
The Ohio State University, Columbus, USA

 

Ferenc Krausz
Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, Garching and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany

 

Anne L’Huillier
Lund University, Sweden

 

“for experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses of light for the study of electron dynamics in matter.”

 

Experiments with light capture the shortest of moments.

 

The three Nobel Laureates in Physics 2023 are being recognized for their experiments, which have given humanity new tools for exploring the world of electrons inside atoms and molecules. Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz, and Anne L’Huillier have demonstrated a way to create extremely short pulses of light that can be used to measure the rapid processes in which electrons move or change energy.

 

Fast-moving events flow into each other when perceived by humans, just like a film that consists of still images is perceived as a continual movement. If we want to investigate really brief events, we need special technology. In the world of electrons, changes occur in a few tenths of an attosecond – an attosecond is so short that there are as many in one second as there have been seconds since the birth of the universe.

 

The laureates’ experiments have produced pulses of light so short that they are measured in attoseconds, thus demonstrating that these pulses can be used to provide images of processes inside atoms and molecules.

 

In 1987, Anne L’Huillier discovered that many different overtones of light arose when she transmitted infrared laser light through a noble gas. Each overtone is a light wave with a given number of cycles for each cycle in the laser light. They are caused by the laser light interacting with atoms in the gas; it gives some electrons extra energy that is then emitted as light. Anne L’Huillier has continued to explore this phenomenon, laying the ground for subsequent breakthroughs.

 

In 2001, Pierre Agostini succeeded in producing and investigating a series of consecutive light pulses, in which each pulse lasted just 250 attoseconds. At the same time, Ferenc Krausz was working with another type of experiment, one that made it possible to isolate a single light pulse that lasted 650 attoseconds.

 

The laureates’ contributions have enabled the investigation of processes that are so rapid they were previously impossible to follow.

 

“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.

 

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Physiology or Medicine...

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Figure 2. mRNA contains four different bases, abbreviated A, U, G, and C. The Nobel Laureates discovered that base-modified mRNA can be used to block the activation of inflammatory reactions (secretion of signaling molecules) and increase protein production when mRNA is delivered to cells. © The Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine. Ill. Mattias Karlén

Topics: COVID-19, Medicine, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize, Physiology

Press Release

2023-10-02

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet

has today decided to award

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

The discoveries by the two Nobel Laureates were critical for developing effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 during the pandemic that began in early 2020. Through their groundbreaking findings, which have fundamentally changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with our immune system, the laureates contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times.

mRNA vaccines: A promising idea

In our cells, genetic information encoded in DNA is transferred to messenger RNA (mRNA), which is used as a template for protein production. During the 1980s, efficient methods for producing mRNA without cell culture were introduced, called in vitro transcription. This decisive step accelerated the development of molecular biology applications in several fields. Ideas of using mRNA technologies for vaccine and therapeutic purposes also took off, but roadblocks lay ahead. In vitro transcribed mRNA was considered unstable and challenging to deliver, requiring the development of sophisticated carrier lipid systems to encapsulate the mRNA. Moreover, in vitro-produced mRNA gave rise to inflammatory reactions. Enthusiasm for developing the mRNA technology for clinical purposes was, therefore, initially limited.

These obstacles did not discourage the Hungarian biochemist Katalin Karikó, who was devoted to developing methods to use mRNA for therapy. During the early 1990s, when she was an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, she remained true to her vision of realizing mRNA as a therapeutic despite encountering difficulties in convincing research funders of the significance of her project. A new colleague of Karikó at her university was the immunologist Drew Weissman. He was interested in dendritic cells, which have important functions in immune surveillance and the activation of vaccine-induced immune responses. Spurred by new ideas, a fruitful collaboration between the two soon began, focusing on how different RNA types interact with the immune system.

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Lived Well...

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Positive (+): LiMO2 <--> Li1-xMO

Negative (-): xLi+ + xe- + C <--> LixC

M = transition metal

NANO 761: Introduction to Nano Energy, Lecture 4 - Lithium Ion Battery, Cathode to Anode, Spring 2018, JSNN

Topics: Battery, Climate Change, Green Tech, History, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize

John B. Goodenough, a professor at The University of Texas at Austin who is known around the world for the development of the lithium-ion battery, died Sunday at the age of 100. Goodenough was a dedicated public servant, a sought-after mentor, and a brilliant yet humble inventor.

His discovery led to the wireless revolution and put electronic devices in the hands of people worldwide. In 2019, Goodenough made national and international headlines after being awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his battery work, an award many of his fans considered a long time coming, especially as he became the oldest person to receive a Nobel Prize.

“John’s legacy as a brilliant scientist is immeasurable — his discoveries improved the lives of billions of people around the world,” said UT Austin President Jay Hartzell. “He was a leader at the cutting edge of scientific research throughout the many decades of his career, and he never ceased searching for innovative energy-storage solutions. John’s work and commitment to our mission are the ultimate reflection of our aspiration as Longhorns — that what starts here changes the world — and he will be greatly missed among our UT community.”

UT Mourns Lithium-Ion Battery Inventor and Nobel Prize Recipient John Goodenough, UT News

Until the announcement of his selection as a Nobel laureate, Dr. Goodenough was relatively unknown beyond scientific and academic circles and the commercial titans who exploited his work. He achieved his laboratory breakthrough in 1980 at the University of Oxford, where he created a battery that has populated the planet with smartphones, laptop, and tablet computers, lifesaving medical devices like cardiac defibrillators, and clean, quiet plug-in vehicles, including many Teslas, that can be driven on long trips, lessen the impact of climate change and might someday replace gasoline-powered cars and trucks.

Like most modern technological advances, the powerful, lightweight, rechargeable lithium-ion battery is a product of incremental insights by scientists, lab technicians, and commercial interests over decades. But for those familiar with the battery’s story, Dr. Goodenough’s contribution is regarded as the crucial link in its development, a linchpin of chemistry, physics, and engineering on a molecular scale.

John B. Goodenough, 100, Dies; Nobel-Winning Creator of the Lithium-Ion Battery, Robert D. McFadden, New York Times

Before I met Professor Steve Wienberg, I had read my cousin Wilbur's copy of "The First Three Minutes." Little did I know that he would autograph it for me or that I would meet him, along with his former student (and my friend, Dr. Mark G. Raizen), at the National Society of Black Physicists in the fall of 2011 in Austin, Texas.

I never met John B. Goodenough, but I did study his theories in a class on battery nanomaterials at my graduate school. "Engineering on a molecular scale" is essentially what I studied in Nanoengineering, as batteries will only store charges longer and get better at the nanomaterials level. This is the way we will make the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner, more income-equitable options.

Ph.D. seemed so far away until the Hooding Ceremony. A few things about the tributes struck and moved me deeply:

He and his wife had no children, but Dr. Goodenough was enthusiastic about teaching, mentoring, and giving back. UT said he often donated any honorarium to the university.

He was from a home that, from the NY Times, was neglectful to him and indifferent.

He suffered from dyslexia and overcame it to achieve a Ph.D. in 1952 and a Nobel Prize at 97 in 2019. Everyone has their struggles, but for the love of science, he overcame them without excuses. A HUGE part of obtaining a degree in a STEM field is pure grit. Some of us quit too early from our dreams or debase our abilities before we even try.

The modern age we take for granted is possible because of humble spirits in laboratories, coding software, at dry erase boards full of equations who pushed a little further than any of their self-doubts. We are fortunate they pressed forward.

Nanos gigantum humeris insidentes - First recorded by John of Salisbury in the twelfth century and attributed to Bernard of Chartres. Also commonly known by the letters of Isaac Newton: "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

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John B. Goodenough in 2017. Two years later, when he was 97 and still active in research at the University of Texas at Austin, he became the oldest Nobel Prize winner in history. Credit...Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times

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Challenging the Standard Model...

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Excited helium nuclei inflate like balloons, offering physicists a chance to study the strong nuclear force which binds the nucleus’s protons and neutrons. Kristina Armitage/Quanta Magazine

Topics: Modern Physics, Nobel Prize, Particle Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Steven Weinberg, Theoretical Physics

A new measurement of the strong nuclear force, which binds protons and neutrons together, confirms previous hints of an uncomfortable truth: We still don’t have a solid theoretical grasp of even the simplest nuclear systems.

To test the strong nuclear force, physicists turned to the helium-4 nucleus, which has two protons and two neutrons. When helium nuclei are excited, they grow like an inflating balloon until one of the protons pops off. Surprisingly, in a recent experiment, helium nuclei didn’t swell according to plan: They ballooned more than expected before they burst. A measurement describing that expansion, called the form factor, is twice as large as theoretical predictions.

“The theory should work,” said Sonia Bacca, a theoretical physicist at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and an author of the paper describing the discrepancy, which was published in Physical Review Letters. “We’re puzzled.”

For many years, physicists didn’t understand how to use the strong force to understand the stickiness of protons and neutrons. One problem was the bizarre nature of the strong force — it grows stronger with increasing distance rather than slowly dying off. This feature prevented them from using their usual calculation tricks. When particle physicists want to understand a particular system, they typically parcel out a force into more manageable approximate contributions, order those contributions from most important to least important, then simply ignore the less important contributions. With the strong force, they couldn’t do that.

Then in 1990, Steven Weinberg found a way to connect the world of quarks and gluons to sticky nuclei. The trick was to use an effective field theory — a theory that is only as detailed as it needs to be to describe nature at a particular size (or energy) scale. To describe the behavior of a nucleus, you don’t need to know about quarks and gluons. Instead, at these scales, a new effective force emerges — the strong nuclear force transmitted between nucleons by the exchange of pions.

A New Experiment Casts Doubt on the Leading Theory of the Nucleus, Katie McCormick, Quanta Magazine

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The Nobel Prize in Economics 2022...

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Topics: Economics, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2022 was awarded jointly to Ben S. Bernanke, Douglas W. Diamond, and Philip H. Dybvig "for research on banks and financial crises"

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2022. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2022. Mon. 10 Oct 2022. < https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/2022/summary/ >

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The Nobel Prize in Literature 2022...

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Topics: Literature, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2022 is awarded to the French author Annie Ernaux,

"for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements, and collective restraints of personal memory".

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2022. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2022. Thu. 6 Oct 2022. < https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/2022/summary/ >

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The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2022...

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Topics: Chemistry, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2022 was awarded jointly to Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Morten Meldal, and K. Barry Sharpless "for the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry"

The 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry is about making the difficult simple. Barry Sharpless and Morten Meldal have laid the foundations for a functional form of chemistry – click chemistry – where molecular building blocks quickly and efficiently snap into each other. Carolyn Bertozzi has taken click chemistry to a new dimension and brought it into living organisms.

Chemists have long been driven by the desire to be able to build increasingly complicated molecules. In pharmaceutical research, it has often been about being able to artificially recreate natural molecules that have healing properties. This has led to many admirable molecular constructions, which unfortunately are also generally time-consuming and very expensive to produce.

- This year's chemistry prize is about not fussing about it so much and instead starting from the easy and simple. Even if you choose a simple route, you can build advanced and useful molecules, says Johan Åqvist, chairman of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.

Source: https://www.kva.se/nyheter/nobelpriset-i-kemi-2022/

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2022. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2022. Wed. 5 Oct 2022. < https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2022/summary/ >

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The Nobel Prize in Physics 2022...

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Topics: Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize, Physics

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2022 to

Alain Aspect
Université Paris-Saclay and
École Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France

John F. Clauser
J.F. Clauser & Assoc., Walnut Creek, CA, USA

Anton Zeilinger
University of Vienna, Austria

“for experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities and pioneering quantum information science”

Entangled states – from theory to technology

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 on quantum information.

Press release: The Nobel Prize in Physics 2022. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2022. Tue. Oct 2022. < https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/2022/press-release/ >

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Image Link: NobelPrizeMedicine.org

Topics: Medicine, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize

Press release

2022-10-03

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet

has today decided to award

the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

to

Svante Pääbo

for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution

Humanity has always been intrigued by its origins. Where do we come from, and how are we related to those who came before us? What makes us, Homo sapiens, different from other hominins?

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.

Pääbo’s seminal research gave rise to an entirely new scientific discipline; paleogenomics. By revealing genetic differences that distinguish all living humans from extinct hominins, his discoveries provide the basis for exploring what makes us uniquely human.

Press release: The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2022. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2022. Mon. 3 Oct 2022. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/2022/press-release/>

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5 Elements...

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(Credit: concept w/Shutterstock)

Topics: Chemistry, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize

Currently, there are 118 elements on the periodic table. If a new element is discovered, naming it involves several factors. Elements can be named after how they were obtained, their attributes, the compound they were isolated from, and places they were discovered. However, they can also be named after the people who found them. Fifteen elements have been named after scientists — here are five of them.

1. Curium (Cm)

2. Fermium (Fm)

3. Meitnerium (Mt)

4. Nobelium (No)

5. Oganesson (Og)

5 Elements Named in Honor of Notable Scientists, Allison Futterman, Discovery Magazine

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Alvarez, and Apocalypse...

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Luis Walter Alvarez co-developed the theory that the extinction of the dinosaurs was caused by an asteroid impact (Courtesy: iStock/estt)

Topics: Dinosaurs, Nobel Prize, Research

In the run-up to the announcement of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Physics on 5 October, we’re running a series of blog posts looking at previous recipients and what they did after their Nobel-prize-winning work. In this first installment, Laura Hiscott explores the wide-ranging research of Luis Walter Alvarez, who won the prize for developing the hydrogen bubble chamber, but also investigated the Egyptian pyramids and dinosaur extinction.

I don’t remember the first time I heard the theory that the dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid crashing into the Earth. It’s a dramatic story that gets told to wide-eyed children in classrooms and natural history museums at an earlier age than many can remember, so it feels more like absorbed knowledge. What is less commonly known, however, is that one of the originators of this proposal was Luis Walter Alvarez, who won the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on the hydrogen bubble chamber.

But it wasn’t just dinosaurs and asteroids that Alvarez got excited about. Throughout his long and varied career, Alvarez was also involved in sending particle detectors into the sky in high-altitude balloons and searching for hidden chambers inside ancient Egyptian pyramids. It appears that his innate curiosity and experimental creativity, which were so vital for winning the Nobel prize, also led him to investigate many more questions both within physics and beyond.

Life beyond the Nobel: how Luis Alvarez deduced the disappearance of the dinosaurs, Laura Hiscott, Physics World

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The Last Three Minutes...

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My autographed copy from Dr. Weinberg.

 

Topics: History, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize, Steven Weinberg

 

AUSTIN, Texas — Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg, a professor of physics and astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin, has died. He was 88.

 

One of the most celebrated scientists of his generation, Weinberg was best known for helping to develop a critical part of the Standard Model of particle physics, which significantly advanced humanity’s understanding of how everything in the universe — its various particles and the forces that govern them — relate. A faculty member for nearly four decades at UT Austin, he was a beloved teacher and researcher, revered not only by the scientists who marveled at his concise and elegant theories but also by science enthusiasts everywhere who read his books and sought him out at public appearances and lectures.

 

“The passing of Steven Weinberg is a loss for The University of Texas and for society. Professor Weinberg unlocked the mysteries of the universe for millions of people, enriching humanity’s concept of nature and our relationship to the world,” said Jay Hartzell, president of The University of Texas at Austin. “From his students to science enthusiasts, from astrophysicists to public decision-makers, he made an enormous difference in our understanding. In short, he changed the world.”

 

UT Austin Mourns Death of World-Renowned Physicist Steven Weinberg, UT News

 

I'm sure the University of Texas, the New York Times, US News & World Report among many others will do more justice than a blog post from a doctoral student in Nanoengineering.

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Photo at a banquet for the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP), and National Society of Hispanic Physicists (NSHP) joint meeting, September 22, 2011, University of Texas, Austin.

 

His passing made me take stock of the popular books by physicists in my library (a short list): "The Collapsing Universe" (Asimov); "Ideas, and Opinions," "Relativity: The Special, and the General Theory" (Einstein); "Surely, You're Joking Mr. Feynman," "Six Easy Pieces," "QED: The Strange Theory of Light, and Matter," (Feynman); "Gravity" (Hartle); "Stephen Hawking's Universe," "A Brief History of Time," "The Universe in a Nutshell," (Hawking), "The God Particle: If the Universe is the Answer, What is the Question?" (Lederman); Warped Passages: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions" (Randall); "The Black Hole Wars: My Battle With Stephen Hawking To Make The World Safe for Quantum Mechanics" (Susskind); "Black Holes, & Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy" (Thorne), following in alphabetical order by author, lastly Professor Steven Weinberg. Some of my humble ruminations of him:

 

The above is from a Joint Conference between the National Society of Black Physicists and the National Society of Hispanic Physicists in Austin, Texas on September 22, 2011. The photo above as I recall is from the now-defunct Blackberry mobile phone, so please forgive the image quality and pixel density. In my mind, a parallel remembered photo: Einstein lecturing African American physics students at Lincoln University. I cannot say he was going for a double entendre. I remember in the parking lot before I left, holding tightly the steering wheel of the rental, feeling goosebumps, and catching my breath.

 

I met Dr. Weinberg and thanked him for signing my only copy of "The First Three Minutes" when I was a graduate student in Astrophysics at the University of Texas (I have a hardcover copy; the most recent prints are paperback or Kindle). I was quite astonished that he remembered me. I filed my request sheepishly through his Administrative Assistant, but he did remember my request, and me specifically.

 

These were my first thoughts when a friend posted the UT News article on Facebook. Her husband had been a student of Dr. Weinberg, and a physics colleague for almost four decades. I called him to give my personal condolences. We both agreed it was the passing of an age that may never be repeated again. With each passing day, each quote by Dr. Carl Sagan in "A Demon-Haunted World" is becoming prophesy.

 

Though my friend is an accomplished scientist himself, he always felt intimidated by his mentor's presence. He and Professor Weinberg tentatively made a date to resume their lunch meetings, subsumed by the pandemic, until life or the cessation of life inevitably happens. The body wears out, and Entropy eventually has the last say. In the end, our positive impact is our epitaph, it is how we will be remembered.

 

*****

 

It is the loss of a giant in an age ruled by madness. I got to shake hands with Professor Steven Weinberg at the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP), and the National Society of Hispanic Physicists (NSHP) when they held a joint meeting in Austin, Texas, September 22, 2011.

 

I have both “The First Three Minutes” (he graciously autographed), and “To Explain the World.”

 

His passing should make us all more determined to do just that in a world now ruled by gaslighting, and in the words of Carl Sagan, “thirty-second sound bites” (if they’re even that long). We should shine his passion for scientific inquiry as lights in “this present darkness.”

 

I think he’d want us to remember him that way.

 

At least that’s how I’m consoling myself through the tears.

 

 

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Women's History Month, and CRISPR...

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Topics: Biology, Chemistry, DNA, Nobel Prize, Research, Women in Science

This year’s (2020) Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to two scientists who transformed an obscure bacterial immune mechanism, commonly called CRISPR, into a tool that can simply and cheaply edit the genomes of everything from wheat to mosquitoes to humans. 

The award went jointly to Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens and Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, “for the development of a method for genome editing.” They first showed that CRISPR—which stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats—could edit DNA in an in vitro system in a paper published in the 28 June 2012 issue of Science. Their discovery was rapidly expanded on by many others and soon made CRISPR a common tool in labs around the world. The genome editor spawned industries working on making new medicines, agricultural products, and ways to control pests.

Many scientists anticipated that Feng Zhang of the Broad Institute, who showed 6 months later that CRISPR worked in mammalian cells, would share the prize. The institutions of the three scientists are locked in a fierce patent battle over who deserves the intellectual property rights to CRISPR’s discovery, which some estimate could be worth billions of dollars.

“The ability to cut DNA where you want has revolutionized the life sciences. The genetic scissors were discovered 8 years ago, but have already benefited humankind greatly,” Pernilla Wittung Stafshede, a chemical biologist at the Chalmers University of Technology, said at the prize briefing.

CRISPR was also used in one of the most controversial biomedical experiments of the past decade, when a Chinese scientist edited the genomes of human embryos, resulting in the birth of three babies with altered genes. He was widely condemned and eventually sentenced to jail in China, a country that has become a leader in other areas of CRISPR research.

Although scientists were not surprised Doudna and Charpentier won the prize, Charpentier was stunned. “As much as I have been awarded a number of prizes, it’s something you hear, but you don’t completely connect,” she said in a phone call with the Nobel Prize officials. “I was told a number of times that when it happens, you’re very surprised and feel that it’s not real.”

At a press briefing today, Doudna noted she was asleep and missed the initial calls from Sweden, only waking up to answer the phone finally when a Nature reporter called. "She wanted to know if I could comment on the Nobel and I said, Well, who won it? And she was shocked that she was the person to tell me."

CRISPR, the revolutionary genetic ‘scissors,’ honored by Chemistry Nobel, Jon Cohen, Science Magazine, AAAS

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Nobel Prize in Economics...

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Nobel Prize, Economics.

Topics: Economics, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2020 was awarded jointly to Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson "for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats."

 The Prize in Economic Sciences 2020. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2020. Mon. 12 Oct 2020. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/2020/summary/>

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Nobel Prize in Literature...

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Nobel Prize, Literature.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2020 was awarded to Louise Glück "for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal."

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2020. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2020. Thu. 8 Oct 2020. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/2020/summary/>

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Nobel Prize in Chemistry...

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Topics: Chemistry, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 was awarded jointly to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna "for the development of a method for genome editing."

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2020. Wed. 7 Oct 2020. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2020/summary/>

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Nobel Prize in Physics...

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Nobel Prize in Physics, 2020

Topics: Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize, Physics

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2020 was divided, one half awarded to Roger Penrose “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity”, the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy.”

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2020. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2020. Tue. 6 Oct 2020. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/2020/summary/>

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