Earlier this month, the Nobel Prize laureates of 2023 were announced. Since the awards first began in 1901, Nobel Prize awards have been awarded to those who, in the words of awards founder Alfred Nobel, “have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind” during the preceding year.
Since 1901, Nobel Prizes have been awarded across five categories; physics, chemistry, medicine or physiology, literature, and peace. In 1968, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was established, bringing the total number of Nobel Prizes awarded each year to six. In total, 11 Laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2023 across the six categories. Meet this year’s laureates.
Physiology or Medicine Nobel Prize
Katlin Kariko and Drew Weismann were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Since the rise of the pandemic, it was often said that whoever would be able to put this to an end would be awarded this prize and surely enough Dr Kariko and Dr Weismann were duly rewarded for their discoveries which led to the development of effective and reliable mRNA vaccines against Covid-19.
Economic Sciences Nobel Prize
Claudia Goldin, a professor of Harvard, became the third woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, but the first woman to receive the prize without the partnership with a male counterpart. Her research has “advanced our understanding of women’s labour market outcomes”, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences stated. Goldin’s work has revealed the main sources of the remaining gender pay gap with her research incorporating over 200 years’ worth of data.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was given to Moungi G. Bawendi, Loius E. Brus, and Alexei I. Ekimov for their discovery and development of quantum dots, nanoparticles so tiny that their size determines their properties. This discovery has led to significant advancements in nanotechnology with doctors being able to use this discovery to map biological tissue and being able to guide surgeons when they remove tumour tissue. The Chemistry award was this year, also subject to a rare slip-up on the part of the Nobel committee. Some Swedish media outlets mistakenly sent a press release via email of the winners before the committee had officially announced their decision. Commenting on the error, the secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, stated that the slip-up was “very unfortunate, and we regret very much that this happened.”
Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier shared the Nobel Prize in Physics. They were recognised by the academy for they have “demonstrated a way to create extremely short pulses of light that can be used to measure the rapid processes in which electrons move or change energy.” Which has given humanity new tools for exploring the world of electrons inside atoms and molecules.
With work that includes wonderful novels such as 1989’s The Boathouse and 1995’s Melancholy, it was no surprise that the Norwegian novelist and playwright Jon Fosse won the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday morning. The Academy awarded Fosse “for his innovative plays and prose which gave voice to the unsayable.” Fosse now joins the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Doris Lessing, and William Falkner whose work will now forever be immortalised along with the works of his fellow laureates.
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Narges Mohammadi (right) for her ongoing fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all. The academy noted that they “recognise the hundreds of thousands of people who, in the preceding year, have demonstrated against the theocratic regimes’ policies of discrimination and oppression targeting women.” with Mohammadi being the face of the fight against the tyrannical forces in governance in Iran. During the course of Mohammadi’s brave struggle for freedom of expression and the right of independence, the regime in Iran arrested her 13 times, convicted her five times, and sentenced her to a total of 31 years in prison and 154 lashes. Narges Mohammadi is still in prison.
Irish Recipients of the Nobel Prize
While there were no Irish Laureates included in this year’s Nobel Prize awards, a number of past Nobel Laureates have come from the island of Ireland. Four Irish men, W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, and Seamus Heaney, have won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Physicist Ernest Walton won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1951 and William C. Campbell won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2015. In 1976, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work as peace activists in Northern Ireland. While the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to John Hume and David Trimble in 1998 for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict of Northern Ireland. All laureates will receive their awards in Stockholm during a ceremony on the 10th of December 2023.
John O’Connor – Writer
Mark O’Rourke – Features Editor