In 1895 a very wealthy man, Alfred Nobel, died and established the prizes in his will. He is described as a scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, author and pacifist. His generous gift has provided recognition and advancement in each of those categories all over the world since the first award was given in 1901. Each full Nobel prize is worth 8 million Swedish kroner — about $1.2 million.
2012 Nobel Prize in Literature
The second ever Chinese author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature is Mo Yan, best known in the West for his book Red Sorghum, also made into a film.
2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to two Americans, Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Koblika. They won for their work on sensors or receptors that sit on the surface of cells. The receptors make cells respond to chemical signals that your body releases when you react to the outside world. Essentially, they discovered that cells do have actual receptors, and they found the gene for them, that respond to the fight or flight hormone adrenaline.
2012 Nobel Prize in Physics
In another shared prize, the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Serge Haroche of France and David Wineland of the United States for their work on the "fundamental interactions between light particles and matter." The pair found a way to “observe and manipulate subatomic particles without destroying them.” It has direct implications to help scientists understand how particles behave in quantum computing, which could improve computer speeds and provide greater precision in caesium clocks.
2012 Nobel Prize for Medicine/ Physiology
John Gurdon from Great Britain and Shinya Yamanaka from Japan uncovered a breakthrough in reprogramming cells. Incredibly, Gurdon’s school master at Eaton didn’t have confidence in Gurdon’s scientific capacity. The hope is that Gurdon and Yamanaka’s technique will be used to create stem cells from ordinary cells to treat diseases like Parkinson’s and diabetes. This would avoid the ethical predicament in using embryonic stem cells.
If you’re looking for more information on the Nobel Prize, the website NobelPrize.org has a lot of information, images, and artifacts to share.
The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize was announced on Friday, October 12, 2012.