2019 Nobel Prizes:
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2019:
Awarded “for contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth’s place in the cosmos”. Winners are:
- James Peebles “for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology”.
- Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz “for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star”
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019:
John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino “for the development of lithium-ion batteries”
What are lithium-ion batteries?
Lithium is the lightest of all metals, has the greatest electrochemical potential and provides the largest energy density for weight.Although slightly lower in energy density than lithium metal, lithium-ion is safe, provided certain precautions are met when charging and discharging.In 1991, the Sony Corporation commercialized the first lithium-ion battery. Other manufacturers followed suit.
Why are they important?
- The energy density of lithium-ion is typically twice that of the standard nickel-cadmium.
- There is potential for higher energy densities.
- The load characteristics are reasonably good and behave similarly to nickel-cadmium in terms of discharge.
- The high cell voltage of 3.6 volts allows battery pack designs with only one cell.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2019:
William G. Kaelin Jr, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza “for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability”
What we knew so far?
The rate at which we respire depends on the amount of oxygen being carried in the blood.
Specialised cells present next to large blood vessels in the neck sense the blood oxygen level and alert the brain to increase the rate of respiration when the oxygen level in the blood goes down. This discovery won a Nobel Prize in 1938.
The Nobel Prize in Literature 2019:
Polish author Olga Tokarczuk and Austrian novelist Peter Handke would receive 2018 and 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature. The prize was postponed in 2018 after the academy was hit by a sexual assault scandal.
Peter Handke “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience”
The Nobel Peace Prize 2019:
Abiy Ahmed Ali (PM of Ethiopia) “for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea”
History of the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict:
- In April 1993, Eritrea broke from its federation with Ethiopia, becoming an independent country that was located strategically at the mouth of the Red Sea on the Horn of Africa, in close proximity to one of the world’s most crucial shipping lanes. Independence was the outcome of a 30-year war by Eritrean liberation fighters against Ethiopia, which had annexed the small multiethnic territory to its north in 1962.
- Just over five years after Independence, however, war broke out between the two countries over the control of Badme — a border town of no apparent significance, but which both Addis Ababa and Asmara coveted.
The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2019:
Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”.Esther Duflo has become the second woman to win prize after Elinor Ostrom (2009) of US. This year’s Laureates have introduced a new approach to obtaining reliable answers about the best ways to fight global poverty.
In brief, it involves dividing this issue into smaller, more manageable, questions – for example, the most effective interventions for improving educational outcomes or child health.They have shown that these smaller, more precise, questions are often best answered via carefully designed experiments among the people who are most affected.