Every year the world recognizes the people who perform exceptional achievements in their respective fields through the Nobel Prize. The 2016 laureates have just been announced so in case you missed them, here’s a roundup of this year’s winners and their contributions.
The Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology
Japanese biologists Yoshinori Ohsumi received this award for his work in autophagy or the “self-eating” processes of cells. Looking at yeast cells initially, he observed them sending damaged or unneeded material to recycling compartments. In the 1990s, he linked the process to a gene and even discovered how autophagy worked in human cells. The discovery became an important milestone in better understanding how a mutation in the gene can lead to diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
The Nobel Prize in physics
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 4, 2016
Three scientists share this prize. David Thouless, Duncan Haldane, and Michael Kosterlitz used mathematical topology to prove the existence of matter states previously thought impossible.
The scientists used advanced mathematics to examine odd states of matter like superfluids that have the property of liquids but with zero viscosity. And with no friction to slow down the liquid’s flow, its particles act like one super particle. They also looked at thin magnetic films and superconductors and they’ve laid the groundwork for future scientific advances in these materials.
The Nobel Prize in chemistry
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 5, 2016
Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, and Bernard L. Feringa were granted this award for their advancements in the field of molecular machines. Basically, they’ve built the world’s smallest machine made of molecules linked together that do some sort of work when energy is added. The miniaturization of machines takes the field of Chemistry to a completely new dimension and will lead to develop of new materials, sensors, and energy storage systems.
The Nobel Prize in Literature
The legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan won this year’s prize for “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” according to Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy.
For over six decades, he’s been streaming out songs covering war, heartache, death, and morality to the world in heart wrenching lyrics which are often compared to poems. The prize only further recognizes his literary talent.
The Nobel Peace Prize
This year’s prize goes to Colombia’s 32nd and current President Juan Manuel Santos “for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end”. The civil war has been an ongoing quagmire pitting the military, criminal organizations, and separatist groups against each other with civilians stuck in the crossfire. Santos and the leader of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) known as Timochenko worked tirelessly to sign a peace deal to bring the war to an end. Though the deal was narrowly rejected in a referendum on Oct. 3rd and put the deal in limbo for now.
The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 10, 2016
Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström both received this award for their improvements to the ever essential contract. Holmström’s informativeness principle laid out how a contract could better link pay to performance in arrangements like that between shareholders and CEOs of companies. Meanwhile, Hart offered a better way to deal with incomplete contracts by allocating control rights.
While each laureate is usually recognized by their peers and respected in their fields long before being nominated for the Nobel Prize, the ceremony involved in awarding them still stands as a source of inspiration for the world and especially the next generation of scientists, artists, and policy makers who will come after them. Congratulations go to the outstanding group of people recognized this year.