© Nobel Media. Ill. Niklas Elmehed

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2020

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2020 with one half to Roger Penrose “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity" and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez "for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy".

© Nobel Media. Ill. Niklas Elmehed.

That’s how Andrea Ghez succinctly sums-up her motivation for becoming an astrophysicist in this conversation recorded  shortly after she heard the news of her Nobel Prize in a 2 am call from Stockholm.

Ghez 3 2

© Nobel Media. Ill. Niklas Elmehed.

In this telephone interview, Roger Penrose recounts the story of how a crossroads in Dallas held the key to his seminal 1965 paper on the theoretical basis of black holes.

Penrose 3 2

© Nobel Media. Ill. Niklas Elmehed.

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The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna have discovered one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors. Using these, researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision. This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true.

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© Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna “for the development of a method for genome editing”.

Since Charpentier and Doudna discovered the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors in 2012 their use has exploded. The genetic scissors have taken the life sciences into a new epoch and, in many ways, are bringing the greatest benefit to humankind.

© Nobel Media. Ill. Niklas Elmehed.

"We had a sense that we were onto something big," says Jennifer Doudna is this interview, as she recalls the start of her "curiosity-driven" research into CRISPR and reflects on the pace of the field today.

Doudna 3 2

© Nobel Media. Ill. Niklas Elmehed.

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The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2020

This year’s Medicine Prize is awarded to three scientists who have made a decisive contribution to the fight against blood-borne hepatitis, a major global health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer in people around the world. The Nobel Laureates’ discovery of Hepatitis C virus is a landmark achievement in the ongoing battle against viral diseases.

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Scientific background: The discovery of Hepatitis C virus

© The Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine. Ill. Mattias Karlén

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice “for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus”. Thanks to their discovery, highly sensitive blood tests for the virus are now available and these have essentially eliminated post-transfusion hepatitis in many parts of the world, greatly improving global health.

© Nobel Media. Ill. Niklas Elmehed.

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The Nobel Prize in Literature 2020

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2020 is awarded to the American poet Louise Glück “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”.

Louise Glück made her debut in 1968 with Firstborn, and was soon acclaimed as one of the most prominent poets in American contemporary literature.

More about Louise Glück and her works
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“My first thought was ‘I won’t have any friends,’ because most of my friends are writers”, says Louise Glück, having just heard the news that she had been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature.

© Nobel Media. Ill. Niklas Elmehed.

Literature was the fourth prize area Nobel mentioned in his will. Learn more about the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Svetlana Alexievich dictaphone

Photo: A. Mahmoud

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The Nobel Peace Prize 2020

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 to the World Food Programme (WFP). The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security. In 2019, the WFP provided assistance to close to 100 million people in 88 countries who are victims of acute food insecurity and hunger.

Read the full announcement

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Watch the announcement of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize presented by Berit Reiss-Andersen, Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and the interview afterwards.

2020 Peace Prize announcement

Berit Reiss-Andersen

“I believe what the committee have done today is to give recognition to the fact that we can’t ignore the poor, the needy and the vulnerable that are suffering around the world,” says David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme.

SYR 20170501 WFP Abeer Etefa 0468

Credit: World Food Programme

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The Prize in Economic Sciences 2020

This year’s Laureates, Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson, have studied how auctions work. They have also used their insights to design new auction formats for goods and services that are difficult to sell in a traditional way, such as radio frequencies. Their discoveries have benefitted sellers, buyers and taxpayers around the world.

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© Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2020 to Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson “for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats”.

The new auction formats are a beautiful example of how basic research can subsequently generate inventions that benefit society. The unusual feature of this example is that the same people developed the theory and the practical applications. The Laureates’ ground-breaking research about auctions has thus been of great benefit, for buyers, sellers and society as a whole.

The 2020 Laureates in Economic Sciences

© Nobel Media. Ill. Niklas Elmehed.

In this interview, recorded 20 minutes after Paul R. Milgrom had learned of his prize, he describes how it was his co-Laureate Robert Wilson who actually delivered the news, in person: “He and his wife just walked over and rang the doorbell.”

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Not only are the 2020 Economics Science Laureates long-time collaborators, they are also neighbours in Palo Alto, and so when Robert Wilson heard the news of his prize from Stockholm, he simply crossed the street and knocked on Paul Milgrom’s door to wake him!

Wilson 3 2

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Nobel Prize facts

Fifteen laureates were awarded Nobel Prizes in 2019. See a short presentation of them here.

Overview from Nobel Prize Award Ceremony

Youngest Nobel Laureate ever is Malala Yousafzai. She was 17 years old when she was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

Malala Yousafzai

The Nobel Prize call

"I think it's a shock"

Surprised, overwhelmed, terrified, happy. How would you react if you suddenly heard that you had been awarded the Nobel Prize? Here, six laureates share their stories.

Alfred Nobel - Established the Nobel Prizes

Chemist, engineer and industrialist Alfred Nobel left 31 million SEK (today about 342 million dollars) to fund the Nobel Prizes.

When Alfred was five years old his father Immanuel, an inventor and builder, moved to St. Petersburg. Alfred joined him a few years later.

Alfred Nobel 1853

Based on Alfred’s work and patents a whole new industry developed. Within ten years, 16 explosives producing factories had been founded in 14 countries.

Nobels Dynamite 10 Nov 1906

In his will of 27 November 1895, signed in Paris, Alfred Nobel specified that the bulk of his fortune should be used for prizes.

Alfred Nobel Will

Discover Nobel Prize Lessons

Discover more about the Nobel Prizes with the easy-to-use Nobel Prize Lessons. Watch the videos, look through the manual and slides, print the texts for students and start the class.

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Nobel Prize nominations

In his last will and testament, Alfred Nobel specifically designated the institutions responsible for the prizes he wished to be established.

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Nobel Prize Concert 2020

The world-renowned pianist Igor Levit will be performing at this year's Nobel Prize Concert on 8 December. At his side, he will have conductor Stéphane Denève leading the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.

Date for ticket release will be published later.

Igor Levit

Igor Levit

Photo: Robbie Lawrence

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News

Vidar Helgesen – Norway’s former State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister of European Affairs and Minister of Climate and the Environment – will become the new Executive Director of the Nobel Foundation at the beginning of 2021. He will thus assume the task of strengthening the long-term finances and position of the Nobel Prize as well as further developing public activities surrounding the Nobel Prize in Sweden, Norway and internationally.

Press release

The Nobel Foundation is a private institution established in 1900. Tasked with a mission to manage Alfred Nobel's fortune, the foundation has ultimate responsibility for fulfilling the intentions of Nobel's will.

Flower decorations at the 2016 Nobel Prize award ceremony

© Nobel Media. Photo: P. Frisk.

A new house for culture and science

The new center will be built at Slussen, with sweeping views of Stockholm harbour and the central city. For the past few years, Slussen has been undergoing a major renovation and reconfiguration. With its broad public activities, the Nobel Center will be an important piece of the puzzle in developing Slussen into a lively meeting place.

Slussen aerial

Slussen aerial

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Nobel destinations

Stockholm, Sweden
The Nobel Prize: Ideas Changing the World (3)

The museum showcases the discoveries and creativity of the Nobel Laureates.

Photo: Åke Eson Lindman

NPC Nye Nobels Hage 10

The story of each Peace Laureate is told at the museum.

Photo: Johannes Granseth / Nobel Peace Center

In memoriam

Chemistry Laureate Mario Molina has passed away aged 77. He received the Nobel Prize for research concerning the ozone layer, which shields the Earth from dangerous solar radiation.

Mario J. Molina

Arthur Ashkin, awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of optical tweezers, and their application to biological systems, passed away on 21 September at age 98.

Arthur Ashkin official Nobel portrait

Peace Laureate John Hume passed away on 3 August 2020. He shared the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with David Trimble "for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland."

John Hume

Oliver E. Williamson passed away on 21 May. He was awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2009 "for his analysis of economic governance, especially the boundaries of the firm."

Oliver E. Williamson