2021 Nobel Prize Awards Recognize Thirteen Recipients

By Ava Cassidy / News Editor 

REFLECTING NOBLY: The front side of the Nobel Prize medal. / Credit: Creative Commons.

The Nobel Prizes, widely regarded as the world’s most prestigious awards in the fields of science and literature especially, were announced throughout early October. Thirteen people total were awarded Nobel Prizes in 2021 for physics, chemistry, physiology, literature, peace and economic sciences. 

2021’s Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann, and Giorgio Parisi. This is the first Physics prize to be awarded to a climate scientist. Manabe demonstrated how increased carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere cause increased temperatures and spearheaded the development of physical models of Earth’s climate in the 1960s, which created a foundation for current climate models. 

The physics prize was also awarded to Parisi for his discovery of the ways in which disorder and fluctuations affect each other in all aspects and areas of the universe. Because global warming involves fluctuations that Parisi’s research can help scientists understand, they will further contribute to the growing knowledge of climate change. 

Like Manabe, Hasselmann also contributed to the creation of physical models of Earth’s climate by connecting short-term climate events such as weather to long-term events, including the oceans’ currents. Hasselmann’s work helps researchers make connections between climate change and isolated weather events and natural disasters. 

Benjamin List and David MacMillan were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for inventing organocatalysis, tools that assemble molecules with a variety of uses by building on small organic molecules. Additionally, these new catalysts are eco-friendly and cost-effective.

David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian were awarded the physiology prize for their discoveries about human’s ability to feel sensations like heat and cold. Julius was able to identify a specific receptor in the skin that senses heat, whereas Patapoutian discovered a new type of receptor that helps to sense humans’ movements. These discoveries have the potential to help scientists create new ways to deal with pain. 

“I think one of my favorite parts about looking at these Nobel Prizes and just new science research in general is it makes me think back to why I fell in love with science,” Jennifer Perry said.

The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Abdulrazak Gurnah for his writings on the idea of colonialism and the idea of existing within or between two cultures. For Gurnah, who was born in Tanzania but eventually immigrated to the United Kingdom, the feeling of displacement permeates his writing.

“This is a guy who feels a sense of displacement in both his African world and his English world,” English teacher Joe Croker said. Mr. Croker encouraged students and teachers to read Gurnah’s work. 

Maria Ressa and Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov, both of whom fought for the freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia respectively, won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Ressa founded and is the current CEO of Rappler, an online media company that focuses on investigative journalism. Similarly, Muratov founded Russia’s most independent newspaper, Novaja Gazeta. 

Like the physics Prize, the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences was awarded to three laureates: David Card, Joshua Angrist, and Guido Imbens. Card was recognized for his research on the effect of factors such as minimum wage, immigration, and education on the availability of labor. Angrist and Imbens both helped to interpret Card’s results by studying natural experiments, or experiments that involve variations that likely affect different people in different ways. 

The Nobel Prize awards recognize leaders and innovators in many different and diverse fields. This year’s awards have been some of the more diverse awards as both men and women and black and white people were recognized. These 13 recipients are the leaders in their field, and their recognition from the Nobel committee reflects that.

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