Nobel Prize Winners 2017: Who Won The Nobel Prizes This Year


The Nobel Prize has been a defining measure of significant breakthroughs and accomplishments in the fields of science, academia, and culture ever since the first awards were handed out in 1901. In the 116 years that these prizes have been awarded to those who have demonstrated excellence in their fields, 881 individuals and 23 organizations have received Nobel Prizes (each prize can have up to three winners). This week, the governing bodies that oversee the awarding of these coveted prizes make their announcements of the laureates who will join the legacy of the winners who have come before them, trailblazers of their industries. Here we’ll cover who the winners of the Nobel prizes for 2017 are, and the work for which they won the prize.

A Brief History of the Nobel Prizes

Alfred Nobel, Founder of the Nobel Prizes

Alfred Nobel (1833-96) Swedish chemist and inventor. Dynamite. Endowed Nobel Prizes
Credit: World History Archive/Cover Images

Swedish engineer and inventor Alfred Nobel (b. 1833 – d. 1896) amassed a considerable fortune during his life, mostly on the back of his hundreds of patents – including most notably the patent for dynamite. Nobel’s primary business was in the development and manufacturing of armaments and explosives, with other patents of his, ballistite and cordite, becoming modern replacements for more traditional gunpowder. The fortune that these inventions brought him also brought with them a degree of public scorn for the perceived detriment his inventions brought to the world.

In 1888, Nobel was reading a French newspaper and was shocked to find his own premature obituary, entitled “The Merchant of Death is Dead”. The obituary was erroneously reporting Alfred Nobel’s brother Ludvig’s death, though the obituary did a number on Alfred, shaking him to his core and encouraging him to think about the legacy he would leave behind after he passed. It was this obituary that prompted him to draft a new will, in which he laid out the plans he had in mind for his fortune; to create a series of prizes to award to those who contributed the “greatest benefit to mankind” in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace.

Nobel left behind the staggering majority of his accumulated wealth to establish these five prizes, roughly $186 million. The executors of Nobel’s will founded the Nobel Foundation to care for the fortune as well as organize the awarding of the prizes. Additionally, the will established that a Norwegian Nobel Committee would be responsible for handling the Nobel Peace Prize.

Other institutions were picked or established to oversee the remaining prizes: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the Nobel Prize in Physics, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel; the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; the Swedish Academy awards the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2017: Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, Michael W. Young

BREAKING NEWS! The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has today decided to award the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young "for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm”. Life on Earth is adapted to the rotation of our planet. For many years we have known that living organisms, including humans, have an internal, biological clock that helps them anticipate and adapt to the regular rhythm of the day. But how does this clock actually work? Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young were able to peek inside our biological clock and elucidate its inner workings. Their discoveries explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions. ✨ #nobelprize #nobelprizeinmedicine #officialannouncement #breakingnews #medicine #nobelprizeannouncements #research #award #prize

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Laureates: Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was the first award announced this year on October 2, 2017, with the recipients receiving the award jointly “for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm”.

In layman’s terms, effectively what these men have discovered is tangible evidence of a gene that controls the body’s daily biological rhythms. Most people will have heard about our circadian rhythms; how our bodies are internally aware of the natural rhythms of day-to-day cycles. It’s how your body knows to sleep at night and wake in the morning. It is also the same reason why we experience jet-lag when traveling across time zones; our internal clocks and our external environments are misaligned, and so our bodies have to play catch-up to restore normalcy to our rhythms.

Now, these researchers have uncovered a little more about how exactly this works on a biological level, from experiments and observation of fruit flies’ genetics and seeing how the same principles apply to other multicellular organisms, i.e. people.

Winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2017: Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish, Kip S. Thorne

BREAKING NEWS The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 with one half to Rainer Weiss and the other half jointly to Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne at LIGO/VIRGO COLLABORATION LIGO “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves”. ✨ On 14 September 2015, the universe’s gravitational waves were observed for the very first time. The waves, which were predicted by Albert Einstein a hundred years ago, came from a collision between two black holes. It took 1.3 billion years for the waves to arrive at the LIGO detector in the USA. The signal was extremely weak when it reached Earth, but is already promising a revolution in astrophysics. Gravitational waves are an entirely new way of observing the most violent events in space and testing the limits of our knowledge. LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, is a collaborative project with over one thousand researchers from more than twenty countries. Together, they have realised a vision that is almost fifty years old. The 2017 Nobel Laureates have, with their enthusiasm and determination, each been invaluable to the success of LIGO. Pioneers Rainer Weiss and Kip S. Thorne, together with Barry C. Barish, the scientist and leader who brought the project to completion, ensured that four decades of effort led to gravitational waves finally being observed. ✨ #nobelprize #nobelprizeannouncements #nobelprizeinphysics #officialannouncement #breakingnews #physics #gravitationalwaves #research #award #alberteinstein

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Laureates: Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish, Kip S. Thorne

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded in two halves; the first half to Rainer Weiss and the second half awarded jointly to Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne. These gentlemen were awarded the prize because of their work in observing gravitational waves, something predicted over 100 years ago by Albert Einstein (another Nobel Laureate in Physics). Gravitational waves have long been a theory in experimental physics, though only recently have scientists been able to develop the kind of technology necessary to observe the phenomenon.

These three scientists are integral members of LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory). Rainer Weiss has worked since the mid-1970s on trying to observe gravitational waves in the universe, and together with his fellow laureates and the other 1000 members of LIGO, they have finally achieved something even Einstein believed would be impossible; measuring gravitational waves caused by a collision between two black holes.

This discovery is a groundbreaking advance for the field of physics, giving scientists a new means of measuring and unraveling the mysteries of the universe. This is still a very new science, but the ability to detect and observe these gravitational waves means that new doors are opening for researchers to further understand the most complex of cosmic events.

Winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017: Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, Richard Henderson

BREAKING NEWS The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson “for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution.” This cool microscope technology has revolutionised biochemistry. We may soon have detailed images of life’s complex machineries in atomic resolution. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 is awarded to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson for the development of cryo-electron microscopy, which both simplifies and improves the imaging of biomolecules. This method has moved biochemistry into a new era. A picture is a key to understanding, and scientific breakthroughs often build upon the successful visualisation of objects invisible to the human eye. However, biochemical maps have long been filled with blank spaces because the available technology has had difficulty generating images of much of life’s molecular machinery. Cryo-electron microscopy changes all of this. Researchers can now freeze biomolecules mid-movement and visualise processes they have never previously seen, which is decisive for both the basic understanding of life’s chemistry and for the development of pharmaceuticals. ✨ #nobelprize #nobelprizeannouncements #officialannouncement #breakingnews #chemistry #research #science #breakthrough #award #prize

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Laureates: Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, Richard Henderson

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to these three chemists for their development of cryo-electron microscopy in order to yield high-resolution images of biomolecules. Effectively, these researchers have expanded greatly on the capabilities of the electron microscope by determining a way to freeze biomolecules during mid-movement, allowing electron microscopes to detect and view molecular processes that were previously unseen.

Now, researchers can create far more accurate three-dimensional images of biomolecules. In the past few years, scientific literature has been able to use high-resolution images of things like the surface of the Zika virus and in-depth looks at proteins that cause antibiotic resistance in bacteria. The benefits that this method of observation has for the field of biochemistry is staggering because researchers now have far more detail afforded to the ways they observe material on a molecular level.

This can lead to greater understandings of how things like viruses and bacteria form and defend against pharmaceutical threats like antibiotics and other medicines, and will allow researchers to better engineer ways to combat some of the more deady diseases we encounter.

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2017: Kazuo Ishiguro

BREAKING NEWS The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2017 is awarded to the English author Kazuo Ishiguro “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”. Kazuo Ishiguro was born on November 8, 1954 in Nagasaki, Japan. The family moved to the United Kingdom when he was five years old; he returned to visit his country of birth only as an adult. In the late 1970s, Ishiguro graduated in English and Philosophy at the University of Kent, and then went on to study Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Kazuo Ishiguro has been a full-time author ever since his first book, “A Pale View of Hills” (1982). Both his first novel and the subsequent one, “An Artist of the Floating World” (1986) take place in Nagasaki a few years after the Second World War. The themes Ishiguro is most associated with are already present here: memory, time, and self-delusion. This is particularly notable in his most renowned novel, “The Remains of the Day” (1989), which was turned into film with Anthony Hopkins acting as the duty-obsessed butler Stevens. Ishiguro’s writings are marked by a carefully restrained mode of expression, independent of whatever events are taking place. At the same time, his more recent fiction contains fantastic features. With the dystopian work “Never Let Me Go” (2005), Ishiguro introduced a cold undercurrent of science fiction into his work. In this novel, as in several others, we also find musical influences. A striking example is the collection of short stories titled “Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall” (2009), where music plays a pivotal role in depicting the characters’ relationships. In his latest novel, “The Buried Giant” (2015), an elderly couple go on a road trip through an archaic English landscape, hoping to reunite with their adult son, whom they have not seen for years. This novel explores, in a moving manner, how memory relates to oblivion, history to the present, and fantasy to reality. Apart from his eight books, Ishiguro has also written scripts for film and television.

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Laureate: Kazuo Ishiguro

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to Japanese writer Kazuo Ishiguro “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”, as written in the press release from The Swedish Academy.

Ishiguro is an author of world renown for his works, which include novels like A Pale View of HillsAn Artist of the Floating World, The Remains of the Day, When We Were Orphans, Never Let Me Go, and The Buried Giant among other novels as well as short story collections. Ishiguro was born in 1954 in Nagasaki, Japan, but moved with his family when he was five to England, where he was raised and spent the bulk of his life. Ishiguro has seen some of his work adapted for the silver screen, first with The Remains of the Day in 1993 and then again with Never Let Me Go in 2010.

Common themes throughout Ishiguro’s works include the fallibility of memory, the impermanence of life, and the connections of family, both biological and the families people choose for themselves. Ishiguro has not limited himself by genre, either; his portfolio runs the gamut, from magical realism to fantasy to science fiction. Every novel from the author feels distinct in style and content, while still holding to similar concepts and themes as the rest. In a statement released by Ishiguro’s publisher, the author claimed that the news of him receiving the Nobel Prize was “amazing and totally unexpected.”

Winners of the Nobel Peace Prize 2017: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

Arguably the biggest of the Nobel Prizes is the Nobel Peace Prize, which is awarded to people or institutions who have made significant strides toward realizing a global peace. Notable laureates of this prize include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Elie Wiesel, Kofi Annan, and Barack Obama. This year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, an organization that works tirelessly to draw attention to the need for nuclear disarmament as well as the harmful effects such weapons have on the world.

The award comes following ICAN’s efforts and instrumentality behind the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was reached in July and signed by 122 nations. This treaty is the most comprehensive instrument for nuclear disarmament for the past 20 years. It is the goal of ICAN to stigmatize the possession and threat of nuclear weapons worldwide, so as to move closer to a post-nuclear weapon society. The awarding of the Peace Prize vindicates that treaty, as the Norwegian Nobel Committee has recognized the importance of ICAN’s work and the ratification of the treaty in the UN.

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