Nobel Gold Medals Awarded

December 2019

Nobel Gold Medals Awarded

On December 10, 2019 Stockholm, Sweden and Oslo, Norway hosted the 2019 Nobel Prize award ceremony. The most prestigious international awards this year went to: Abiy Ahmed Ali (Peace Prize); William G. Kaelin Jr, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza (medicine); James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz (physics); John Goodenough, Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino (chemistry); Michael Kremer, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo (economics); and Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke (literature).

The main social event in the world of science and culture is the day of the death of the inventor of dynamite. Every year on December 10 in the main hall of the Stockholm City Hall, a lavish banquet for 1,300 to 1,400 people is held. Hundreds of chefs are involved in preparing delicious dishes, which are served to guests with impeccable high society etiquette. The strictest classics of the attire underscore the solemnity of the magnificent ceremony. Elite drinks fill gilded crystal while unique services on hand-embroidered tablecloths showroom ingeniously designed salads and appetizers. The royal couple arrives. Long live newborns – the laureates of the most prestigious international award!

The Nobel Prize winners and their associates, partners and immediate relatives, whose number cannot exceed 14 persons, are the main guests to the banquet.

This year, the youngest winner represented economics, a nomination that was not originally bequeathed by Alfred Nobel. The French-American economist Esther Duflo (46), together with her colleague and husband of Indian descent Abhijit Banerjee and another economist, the Harvard professor Michael Kremer, developed and, most importantly, put into practice an innovative system of measures to eradicate poverty. Journalists on this occasion have already revived the brand - "a cure for poverty." For it, the team received a check of the Bank of Sweden for 9 million kroon ($915,000).

The laureates from medicine continue the theme of health. There are also three prize winners, but each conducted a scientific search independently of each other. Gregg Semenza, a professor at Hopkins University (USA), a pediatrician and geneticist discovered a specific reaction in the DNA of experimental rodents to lower oxygen levels in the blood. For many years, Peter Ratcliffe, a molecular medical biologist from the UK, has been studying the effects of hypoxia on body cells. William G. Kaelin is also a very famous geneticist. The member of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, who specializes in oncology, argues that the expression of genes associated with hypoxia is often increased in cancer cells. The results of these independent scientific endeavors made it possible to establish a common understanding of the reaction mechanism of the human body to a lack of oxygen, and to begin to develop fundamentally new strategies in the treatment of diseases such as cancer, anemia, and myocardial infarction.

Chemistry was the most important science for Alfred Nobel’s own work. His inventions and the industrial processes he employed were based upon chemical knowledge. Chemistry was the second prize area that Nobel mentioned in his will. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences noted that the materials science guru, American John Goodenough, the inventor from Japan Akira Yoshino and the leading scientist at the research center in Binghamton (USA), Englishman John Goodenough “for the development of lithium-ion batteries”. Through their work, they have created the right conditions for a wireless and fossil fuel-free society, and so brought the greatest benefit to humankind.

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics were awarded “for contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth’s place in the cosmos”, with one half to the Princeton University professor James Peebles “for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology” and the other half jointly to Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz “for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star.” The discoveries of James Peebles are the basis of modern ideas about the universe. A quarter of a century ago, the Swiss astronomers Didier Queloz and Michel Mayor, proved that our solar system was not unique, and discovered the first exoplanet - a gaseous ball comparable to Jupiter. Since then, 4,500 similar objects have been found in the Milky Way.

For the first time at the Stockholm City Hall, two different prizes were awarded in the same nomination. The Polish author Olga Tokarczuk received the 2018 Nobel Prize in literature “for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life.” The award was mired in scandal and did take place last year. The 2019 Nobel Prize in literature was awarded to Peter Handke “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience.” The Australian author has long been well-known not only for his books but also by his film and theatre scripts. The films and theater plays based on his scripts are popular in many countries.

The ceremony of presenting the sixth Nobel Prize - the Peace Prize - takes place on October 10, but already in the capital of another northern kingdom - Norway. In 2019, out of 219 nominees (their list is not officially disclosed), members of the respected jury chose the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed Ali to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said that the Prize was the recognition of the Prime Minister’s peace efforts that included lifting the country's state of emergency, granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, and discontinuing media censorship. For the second year in a row, the Nobel Peace Prize went to the most belligerent continent of the planet - to Africa.

In the Ethiopian empire, there were always separatist sentiments among the Horn of Africa tribes. But the large-scale Civil War began only when the thousand-year-old monarchy was deposed by a group of generals of a communist orientation in 1974. Over the decades of building a “society of social justice”, the number of those killed and maimed in battles has exceeded one million. Even more people have suffered as a result of forced deportation and political terror. The economy in the country was destroyed, and most of the population was doomed to poverty and hunger. Now peace has come in the country, or so it was announced.