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Nobel Prizes 2021

History of Nobel Prize

  • The Nobel Prize was set up when businessman Alfred Nobel died and left the majority of his fortune to the establishment of prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace.
  • His will stated that the prizes should be awarded to those who shall have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.
  • Since the 1stNobel Prizes were awarded in 1901, they have been awarded annually. It was not awarded, mostly during World War I and II.
  • A Nobel Prize cannot be awarded posthumously.
Nobel Prize Selection
Nobel Prize in Physics and Chemistry Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet
Nobel Prize in Literature The Swedish Academy
Nobel Peace Prize Norwegian Nobel Committee


  • [Norwegian Nobel Committee is a 5-member committee of the Norwegian Parliament (Storting).]
  • Fund– When Alfred Nobel died leaving the majority of his fortune to the establishment of the Nobel Prize he stated that the money should be converted into a fund and invested in “safe securities.”
  • Today the interest earned on that money is used to fund the Nobel Prizes.

Nobel Prize Laureate

  • The word “laureate” refers to being signified by the laurel wreath.
  • In ancient Greece, laurel wreaths were awarded to victors as a sign of honour.

Nobel Prize in Physics 2021

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2021 was awarded with one half jointly to Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and the other half to Giorgio Parisi for groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex systems.

  • They have laid the foundation of our knowledge of the Earth’s climate and how humanity influences it.
  • They have revolutionized the theory of disordered materials and random processes.

Complex Systems

  • Complex systems are systems composed of many components which may interact with each other.
  • They are characterised by randomness and disorderand are difficult to understand.
  • Examples are Earth’s global climate, organisms, the human brain, etc.,
  • One complex system of vital importance is Earth’s climate.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021 was awarded jointly to Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan for the development of Asymmetric Organocatalysis.

  • Organocatalysis is a precise new tool for molecular construction.
  • In Organocatalysis, organic catalysts are used to drive multitudes of the chemical reactions.
  • The rapid expansion in the use of organic catalysts is primarily due to their ability to drive asymmetric catalysis.
  • In asymmetric catalysis, two different molecules are built, in which each molecule is a mirror image of the other one.
  • Using Organocatalysis, researchers can now more efficiently construct anything from new pharmaceuticals to molecules that can capture light in solar cells.

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2021

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2021 was awarded jointly to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.

  • The work of the scientists is focused on the field of somatosensation.
  • Somatosensation is the ability of specialised organs such as eyes, ears and skin to see, hear and feel.
  • The impressions of temperature, touch and movement are feelings relying on somatosensation. 
  • Somatosensation information continuously flows from the skin and other deep tissues. 
  • It is also essential for tasks that we perform effortlessly and without much thought.
  • Temperature –Capsaicin from chili peppers was used to identify TRPV1, an ion channel activated by painful heat.
  • Mentholwas used to identify TRPM8, a receptor that was shown to be activated by cold.
  • Additional ion channels related to TRPV1 and TRPM8 were identified and found to be activated by a range of different temperatures.
  • These ion channels help us understand how different temperatures can induce electrical signals in the nervous system.

Nobel Prize in Literature 2021

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2021 was awarded to Abdulrazak Gurnah, who was born in Zanzibar.

  • It was awarded for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.
  • Born in Zanzibar,Gurnah was forced to flee to the United Kindom at the end of the 1960s after a revolution occurred in Zanzibar.

Nobel Peace Prize 2021

The Nobel Peace Prize 2021 was awarded jointly to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.

  • Maria Ressa uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her country, the Philippines.
  • In 2012, she co-founded Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism, which she still heads.
  • Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov has for decades defended freedom of speech in Russiaunder increasingly challenging conditions.
  • In 1993, he was one of the founders of the Novaja Gazeta – the most independent newspaper in Russia – that has a fundamentally critical attitude towards power.
Country Rank in World Press Freedom Index 2021
Norway 1
Philippines 138
Russia 150
India 142

 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences 2021

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2021 was awarded to three people.

The one half of the award was given to David Card for his empirical contributions to labour economics.

  • Using natural experiments, David Card has analysed the labour market effects of minimum wages, immigration and education.
  • The results showed that increasing the minimum wage do not necessarily lead to fewer jobs, among other things.
  • So, we now know that the incomes of people who were born in a country can benefit from new immigration, while people who immigrated at an earlier time risk being negatively affected.
  • It also showed that resources in schools are far more important for students’ future labour market success than was previously thought.

The other half of the award was jointly given to Joshua D. Angrist and Guido W. Imbens for their methodological contributions to the analysis of causal relationships.

They demonstrated how precise conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn from natural experiments.



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