It’s time for the Nobel prizes. Well the announcements at least. The big ceremony is here in Stockholm in December. This is Sweden’s time to shine. And they do a damn fine job of it. Slowly they release the names of the Nobel Prize winners for the various awards. It’s a glorious time for the Swedes and just a cool time in general to be scanning the news. You learn all kinds of interesting things and find out that there are a ridiculous number of intelligent people in the world doing all kinds of amazing things. Some people are inspired, like Mogli, others, like me, just sit in awe and read the accomplishments of these people.
The Nobel Prizes have some interesting history behind them. Alfred Nobel, the man whose name headlines the prize, is famous for having invented dynamite. He considered himself a pacifist despite, or maybe because of, his invention of an incredibly deadly and destructive explosive mechanism. So, in his will he decreed that his estate should go to funding the Nobel Prizes. He wanted it for the sciences, literature (as long as the writing was idealistic), and peace. Seems there were quite a few people opposed including his cousins, who wanted the money, but even the Swedish King at the time. The Local gives a wonderful, and short, explanation of the history of the Nobel Prizes. I think it’s very cool and rewards some amazing people every year. Recipients get a pretty decent amount of money and a whole lot of prestige. Since the inception of the prizes a Nobel Prize for Economy has been added and the Nobel Peace Prize is actually awarded in Norway not Sweden. Anyway, now on to the 2007 Nobel Prize winners announced so far.
This week already five people have been awarded a Nobel Prize. Mario R. Capecchi and Oliver Smithies from the United States (USA! USA! USA!), and Sir Martin J. Evans from Great Britain won Nobel Prize for Medicine. They did all kinds of scientific things to mice and their genes and now this technique is being used in biomedicine. Well done, I don’t have the slightest clue how they go about doing this sort of thing so I’m always very impressed.
Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg, from France and Germany respectively, won the Nobel Prize for Physics. Again, all kinds of scientific stuff that I can’t even begin to comprehend, but if you’re on a computer you should love these guys. They are behind the technology that makes it possible to shrink hard drives. That’s why I can sit on my laptop with more Gigabytes on my hard drive than I will ever use and not have to use a wheel barrow to lug my computer around.
I’ll throw in some updates as the week goes on and more prizes are announced. The Nobel Prize for Literature is going to be announced on Thursday. In the meantime, go out and read up on some of these scientists. They do some glorious work that makes life just a little bit better.