Three scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physics for their contributions to understanding “complex physical systems” such as the Earth’s climate.
The scientists’ discoveries “show that our knowledge of the climate rests on a solid scientific foundation,” said Thors Hans Hansson, chairman of the Nobel Committee for Physics, in a statement from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announcing the winners.
Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann were jointly awarded for the physical modeling of the earth’s climate, “quantifying the variability and reliably predicting global warming”.
Manabe, a senior meteorologist at Princeton University, showed how increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere lead to increased temperatures.
His work in the 1960s led to the development of physical models of the Earth’s climate and his work laid the foundation for the development of current climate models.
About a decade later, Hasselmann, a researcher in Climate dynamics and professor emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany created a model that links weather and climate – and answered the question of why climate models can be reliable despite changeable and chaotic weather.
The other half of the award went to Giorgio Parisi “for discovering the interplay between disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from the atomic to the planetary scale”.
Parisi, professor of theoretical physics at Sapienza University in Rome, discovered hidden patterns in disordered complex materials. His discoveries made it possible to understand phenomena in areas such as physics, biology, and neuroscience.
Following the announcement, Parisi was asked if he had a message ahead of the COP-26 climate change conference in the UK, which begins on October 31 [at] a very fast pace ”in combating climate change.
“It is clear to the future generation that we have to act very quickly now,” he said.
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The prestigious award was launched by the Swedish inventor and entrepreneur Alfred Nobel who stated in his will that most of his assets should be converted into a fund and invested. The income from the investments will then be distributed annually in the form of prizes “to those who have brought the greatest benefit to mankind in the past year”.
The physics award is provided with a medal depicting nature in the form of an Isis-like goddess who emerges from the clouds and holds a cornucopia in her arms. She wears a veil that is held up by the “genius of science”.
The award also comes with a cash prize of 10 million Swedish kronor (over 1.1 million US dollars).
The physics prize was awarded 114 times to 215 people between 1901 and 2020.
Last year, three scientists received the award for groundbreaking research on black holes, the space-time phenomena that have long preoccupied the imaginations of scientists and novelists.
miscellaneous notable previous winners These include Albert Einstein, who received the Physics Prize in 1921, and Pierre and Marie Curie, who won in 1903.
On Monday, American scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of receptors that enable people to feel temperature and touch.
“This really reveals one of nature’s secrets to being one of our senses,” said Thomas Perlmann, Secretary of the Nobel Assembly and the Nobel Committee on Physiology or Medicine.
Prizes in chemistry, literature, peace, and economics will be announced in the coming days.