Nobel Prizes Awarded in Physics, Medicine, Peace, More

Oct 10, 2023

6 Interesting Facts about the Nobel Prizes

Work focused on vaccine development, electron movement, and women’s rights in Iran were among the topics that won Nobel Prizes. The Swedish-based Nobel committees have announced the 2023 winners of the prestigious awards this month.

Alfred Nobel founded the Nobel Prizes in 1896 as part of his will. He was a Swedish chemist and engineer. Nobel chose to give much of his large fortune to people in the last year who added "the greatest benefit to humankind." The awards are given in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, economics, and peace. The first awards were given in 1901. Past laureates include Winston Churchill, Enrico Fermi, Bob Dylan, and Barack Obama.      

Here’s a rundown of this year’s winners:

Physics: Pierre Agostini of the US, Ferenc Krausz of Germany, and Anne L’Huillier of Sweden. They won for coming up with a way to study the movement of electrons by blasting them with tiny pulses of light. 

Chemistry: Moungi G. Bawendi, Louis E. Brus, and Alexei I. Ekimov of the US. They won for discovering “quantum dots.” Those are nanoparticles that emit different types of light depending on their size. The dots are already being used in TVs, LED lamps, and tumor detection tools. 

Medicine: Katalin Karikó of Hungary and Drew Weissman of the US. They won for their research into mRNA. Their work paved the way for the rapid creation of vaccines to combat the COVID-19 virus. 

Literature: John Fosse of Norway. He won for his "plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable.” Fosse is perhaps best known for his plays. He’s one of the most performed playwrights in the world. But his work spans genres, from essays to children’s books.

Economics: Claudia Goldin of the US. She won for her research into the impact of women on the labor market throughout history. Her work also highlights the impact of gender pay gaps.

Peace: Narges Mohammadi of Iran. She won for her work on women’s rights in Iran and around the world. Mohammadi is the vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center. She is currently imprisoned in Iran. She was arrested for protesting the country’s treatment of women and use of the death penalty. 

All winners receive a gold medal, a diploma, and 11,000,000 Swedish krona ($997,700).

Reflect: How can the recognition of achievements in various fields, such as science, literature, and advocacy for human rights, inspire and influence positive change in society?

Based on the information in the infographic, which of the following Nobel Prize laureates declined to accept the prize? (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. Jean-Paul Sartre
b. Narges Mohammadi
c. John B. Goodenough
d. Barack Obama
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