National / Science & Health

Swedish and American researchers named Japan Prize winners

JIJI

The Japan Prize Foundation said Tuesday it will award the 2020 Japan Prize to two scientists from overseas for their contributions to research into Neanderthals and the development of fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless communications technology.

The prize will go to Svante Paabo for his work on decoding the genome sequence of Neanderthals and Robert Gallager for the development of error correction codes used in 5G technology.

The award ceremony will be held in Tokyo on April 15. Each winner will receive a prize of ¥50 million.

Paabo, a 64-year old Swedish paleoanthropologist with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, pioneered the application of DNA analysis for ancient bones.

He discovered that there was interbreeding between Neanderthals and the ancestors of modern humans. He also won the 2016 Keio Medical Science Prize.

Gallager, 88, professor emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States, proposed in the 1960s a coding scheme allowing the detection and correction of errors in data transmissions.

The low-density parity-check codes could not be put into practical use at that time. But improvements in computer processing capacity in recent years have allowed the coding scheme to be used in 5G communications and digital television broadcasts.