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Nobel Prizes 2017

Researchers and inventors in great tradition

the dinner at the Nobel Prizeceremoy in Stockholm

Traditional event: the dinner at the Nobel Prizeceremoy in Stockholm

On 10 December, the Nobel Prizes for 2017 will be presented in Stockholm, the highest awards in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and economics.

Its founder Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) was mainly known as a developer and producer of explosives and held various patents, including those for pdf-Datei dynamite (14,36 MB), his most famous invention. But Nobel also came up with other patented inventions such as a pdf-Datei process for preserving meat (2,64 MB) or pdf-Datei producing artificial rubber (10,99 MB) . In his last will and testament, he ordered the foundation of a trust that has been awarding the prestigious prizes since 1901.

Often, the Nobel Prize is associated with the honouring of a lifetime achievement. Sometimes the stages of a researcher's life can be read off his patent applications. The winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010, for example, the American Richard F. Heck, was awarded for palladium-catalyzed cross-couplings in organic synthesis. Among other things, he holds a patent for an effective palladium-catalyzed process for the production of tertiary allylic amines from vinyl halides and olefins ( pdf-Datei US 4175187A ).

Nobel Prize for Physics 2017: Rainer Weiss

Nobel Prize for Physics 2017: Rainer Weiss (Drawing: Niklas Elmehed)

Sometimes the patent applications have only marginally to do with the work for which the winners were awarded the Nobel Prize. Horst Ludwig Störmer received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1998: He was awarded for his discovery of a new type of quantum fluid with fractionally charged excitations. The patents he holds, however, include a phonon filter, an apparatus for the selective transmission or reflection of high-frequency acoustic waves (phonons) through a so-called acoustic superlattice ( pdf-Datei US 4349796A).

Albert Einstein, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921, developed a refrigerator, invented a hearing aid and held patents in the field of pdf-Datei electroacoustics and pdf-Datei automatic exposure control for cameras.

Albert Einstein was well versed in intellectual property rights, having worked as a patent examiner at the Swiss Federal Office of Intellectual Property in Bern from 1902-07. During this time, a large part of his important works were created.

His successors are the Nobel Prize winners in Physics 2017 Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne. They are awarded "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and to the observation of gravitational waves". The LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) was the first direct detection of gravitational waves of cosmic origin, which Einstein had already predicted in his Allgemeine Relativitätstheorie in 1915.

Joachim Frank, one of the Nobel Prize winners for Chemistry in 2017

Joachim Frank, one of the Nobel Prize winners for Chemistry in 2017 (Drawing: Niklas Elmehed)

Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson share the chemistry prize they receive "for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution". This technology provides an insight into the atomic details of life.

Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young have explored the "inner clock" of man. They are awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine 2017 "for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm", i. e. the explanation of how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm to the living conditions.

The Nobel Prize for Literature is awarded to the Briton Kazuo Ishiguro, "who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world", says the Nobel Committee. The Peace Prize awarded in Oslo goes to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN); Richard H. Thaler receives the Prize in economic sciences "for his contributions to behavioural economics"

The Nobel Prizes award ceremony can be watched live at the Nobelprize.org website (16.30 hrs).

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Picture: Nobel Media AB / Alexander Mahmoud, Picture 2: Nobel Media AB; Zeichnung: Niklas Elmehed, Picture 3: Nobel Media AB; Zeichnung: Niklas Elmehed

Last updated: 23/02/18 

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