Big Scientist: Who will receive the Nobel Prize this year? | NZZ 2

Big Scientist: Who will receive the Nobel Prize this year? | NZZ

Wonderful discoveries, previously empty, abound. Some researchers in Switzerland may have justified their hopes.

Helga Rietz

The highest sanctions on the natural sciences depend on it: the Nobel Medal. (Image: Fernando Vergara / AP)

The highest sanctions on the natural sciences depend on it: the Nobel Medal. (Image: Fernando Vergara / AP)

There are scientific discoveries that equate to a Nobel Prize nomination the moment they become known. It happened in the first experimental detection of gravitational waves or the discovery of the Higgs boson in Cern. In both cases, the participating researchers (or several representatives of the large community) were allowed to receive the desired award in the following year.

Mini organs and glowing nerve cells

A similar high expectation in 2012 was caused by the Crispr-CAS9 collision. Ever since they published their work, inventors Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna have been considered candidates for the Nobel Prize. Scenes have been counting on this award for years.

The competition is big, of course. For example, Clarivate Analytics, a company that evaluates researchers and their work by analyzing large amounts of data, sees prospective inventors in the field of optogenetics as candidates for the Nobel Prize in Medicine. It is a method of selectively activating nerve cells by light. It reversed neuroscience and provided new insights into Parkinson's and various addictions.

Clarivate Analytics also predicts the inventors of the Wnt signaling pathway. Their work led to the development of mini organs in a culture vessel – the so-called organoids. This has opened new avenues for drug research and development.

In the field of physics this year a sensational breakthrough has been made, which is undoubtedly worth the Nobel Prize. For the first time, it was possible to directly portray a black hole – or its shadow. The participating researchers have already received the first highly acclaimed award for this success: they were awarded the Breakthrough Award in early September. However, they will probably have to wait for the Nobel Prize (at least) a year, as the Nobel Prize nomination period ends on February 1st.

This is one of the reasons that the list of hot candidates for the Nobel Prize in Physics does not change much compared to the previous year. Quantum information and cryptography, two-dimensional nanomaterials like graphene "wonder material" and a lithium-ion battery are all highly sought after.

If this year's (already) exploration of astronomy were to come back, the winners could be Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz of the University of Geneva. Two astronomers have discovered the first planet outside our solar system, ushering in a whole new age of planetology.

According to the forecasts of Clarivate and others, they are first and foremost developers of important catalysis and important synthetic methods that hope for the Nobel Prize in chemistry. In addition, some genetic engineering methods are very popular – such as the Southern Blot method, by which single genes can be detected. The method paved the way for certain diagnostic procedures and laid the foundation for personalized medicine. The main theme that makes the (further) Nobel Prize obsolete is genome sequencing. In this area, even pioneers Craig Venter, Eric Lander and Francis Collins can hope for the highest commitment to science. However, to date, hundreds of scientists have made it possible to initiate, refine and decode building block sequences and synthetic DNA synthesis, many of which could receive a Nobel Prize in their field. With the men already mentioned, the biggest opportunities would probably be the trio of Marvin Caruthers, Leroy Hood and Michael W. Hunkapiller.

The Swiss have long been traded for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Michael Grätzel of the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. It is the result of significant developments in the field of solar cells, namely the invention of color-sensitive solar cells and a significant increase in the efficiency of perovskite-based solar cells.

Excite and guess

On Monday, October 7, the Nobel Lecture of the Stockholm Stockholm Institute will announce this year's winners in the category of medicine and physiology. Who receives the coveted Physics Achievement Medal on Tuesday; The Nobel Prize winners will be announced on Wednesday. From around 11:30 you can follow the press conference live, at nobelprize.org or directly here in the NHS.

Last year, James P. Allison of America and Tasuku Honjo of Japan received the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology. Her work has led to a whole new type of cancer therapy, in which the immune system itself is used to remove cancer cells. Treatment known as checkpoint inhibition releases "brakes" in the defense of the body so that the new-energy immune system can detect and destroy degenerated cells.

For his greatest achievements in laser physics, Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland received the Nobel Prize in Physics last year. Mourou and Strickland have devised methods to create particularly short and intense laser pulses. Ashkin was honored to develop so-called optical tweezers. Canadian Donna Strickland was only the third woman to receive a physics award after Marie Curie and Maria Goeppert-Mayer. The Stricklands Prize was a surprise even to connoisseurs of the scene.

The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize went to biochemist Frances Arnold and two molecular biologists, George Smith and Gregory Winter. They used the power of evolution to produce useful biomolecules in a test tube. They are used today as antibodies and effective biocatalysts.