The History of the Nobel Prize
Before we take a look at this year's Nobel laureates, a little historical context. The man behind the prize was Alfred Nobel - a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman and philanthropist. Quite a CV!
Throughout his life, Alfred Nobel made many important contributions to scientific progress. Dynamite was his most famous creation, but he held a total of 355 patents in his lifetime, making him one of the 19th century's most prolific inventors.
Nobel died in 1896, but his legacy lives on through the orders of his will, which states that the Nobel Prize should be awarded to...
"...those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind."
609 prizes have been given to 975 laureates since the first ceremony in 1901. On Tuesday 4th October in Oslo, the Nobel Peace Prize winners were announced by Berit Reiss-Andersen, Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
But that's enough history - time for some science! Let's learn more about the scientists who won the Nobel Prizes for Physics, Chemistry and Physiology this year...
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2022
For their work in the field of quantum information science, this year's winners were:
Professor Alain Aspect is known for his work in the field of cold atoms. He developed a ground-breaking method to cool down atoms in order to immobilise and manipulate them with lasers. Aspect's findings have even shed some light on a debate between Albert Einstein and Nils Bohr that started in 1935!
John F. Clauser
Clauser is particularly known for his work on the Clauser-Horne-Shimony-Holt (CHSH) inequality. (What a tongue-twister!) In physics, the CHSH inequality can be used in the proof of Bell's theorem, which states that certain consequences of entanglement in quantum mechanics cannot be reproduced by local hidden-variable theories.
With his academic roots in the foundations of quantum mechanics and multi-particle interference, Zeiliger performed the first quantum teleportation of an independent qubit. From this, he went on to unearth entanglement swapping - a concept where an entangled state is teleported.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2022
For the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry, this year's winners were:
Carolyn R. Bertozzi
Carolyn Bertozzi is known for her work spanning across the chemistry and biology sectors. In 2003, Bertozzi invented the term "bioorthogonal chemistry", which refers to any chemical reaction that can occur inside of living systems without interfering with native biochemical processes.
Recently, she synthesised chemical tools to study cell surface sugars known as glycans, and looked into how they impact diseases such as cancer and inflammations such as COVID-19.
Meldal has been credited for his development work behind the CuAAC-click reaction, which is an established tool used for the construction of complex molecular architectures. He worked with the third winner of this prize, Barry Sharpless, on this project.
K. Barry Sharpless
Sharpless has been awarded the Nobel Prize twice! He first became a Nobel laureate in 2001 "for his work on chirally catalysed oxidation reactions". He worked with Morten Meldal on the click reaction, but Sharpless was actually the one to first coin the term and fully describe it.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology / Medicine 2022
For his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct African apes and human evolution, this year's winner was Svante Pääbo.
Specialising in evolutionary genetics, Pääbo is one of the founders of paleogenetics, working extensively on the Neanderthal genome. In 1997, Pääbo was part of a team that successfully sequenced Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA, derived from a specimen of the Neander Valley.
In 2007, Pääblo announced a plan to reconstruct the entire genome of Neanderthals. TIME magazine named him one of the most influential people of that year.