World / Science & Health

Nobel Prize for physics awarded to trio of scientists for contribution to understanding of universe's evolution

Staff Report, AP

The 2019 Nobel Prize in physics is jointly awarded to James Peebles “for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology” and to Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz “for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star,” the Nobel committee announced Monday in Stockholm.

“This year’s #NobelPrize in Physics rewards new understanding of the universe’s structure and history, and the first discovery of a planet orbiting a solar-type star outside our solar system,” the committee wrote on its official Twitter account.

“The discoveries have forever changed our conceptions of the world.”

Peebles took on the cosmos, with its billions of galaxies and galaxy clusters, the committee said, with a theoretical framework he developed over two decades, which serves as the foundation of our modern understanding of the universe’s history from the Big Bang to the present day.

Mayor and Queloz, meanwhile, explored the Milky Way, looking for unknown worlds, the committee said, making the first discovery of a planet outside our solar system — an exoplanet — orbiting solar-type star 51 Pegasi.

They will share a 9-million kronor ($918,000) cash award, a gold medal and a diploma. The laureates will receive them at a ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10.

This year’s Nobels will include an award in chemistry — to be announced Wednesday — two literature laureates, the coveted Nobel Peace Prize and the economics award.

This year’s double-header literature prizes will be awarded Thursday and the peace prize will be announced on Friday. The economics prize will be awarded on Oct. 14.

The 2018 literature prize was suspended after a scandal rocked the Swedish Academy. The body plans to award it this year, along with announcing the 2019 laureate.

Author Harumi Murakami, a perennial favorite in Japan, will again be up for the award.

This was the 113th Nobel Prize in physics awarded since 1901, of which 47 awards were given to a single laureate.

Only three women have received the award it so far: Marie Curie in 1903, Maria Goeppert-Mayer in 1963 and Donna Strickland in 2018, according to the Nobel website

Drs. William G. Kaelin Jr. of Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Gregg L. Semenza of Johns Hopkins University and Peter J. Ratcliffe at the Francis Crick Institute in Britain and Oxford University won the prize for discovering details of how the body’s cells sense and react to low oxygen levels, providing a foothold for developing new treatments for anemia, cancer and other diseases.

Prize founder Alfred Nobel — a Swedish industrialist and the inventor of dynamite — decided the physics, chemistry, medicine and literature prizes should be awarded in Stockholm, and the peace prize in Oslo.

Nobel’s exact reasons for having an institution in Norway handing out the peace prize is unclear, but during his lifetime Sweden and Norway were joined in a union, later dissolved in 1905.

Elegant award ceremonies for this year’s prizes will be held in Stockholm and Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death in 1896.