The Kavli Prizes are awarded every 2 years to scientists whose research investigations have made seminal advances in science. These Prizes were established by Fred Kavli (1927-2013), a physicist, inventor, and industrialist. Kavli Prizes have the same level of high honor as the Nobel Prizes, but are restricted to 3 large areas of science (astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience). For 2016, 9 pioneering scientists were announced as awardees in June, and next week the Kavli Prizes will be presented at a special ceremony in Oslo, Norway, during the Kavli Prize Week festivities.
Today’s dispatch briefly gives information about the newest Kavli Prize Laureates and their important research achievements.
Kavli Prize Week and the Kavli Foundation!
The Kavli Prize website presents much information about the Kavli Prizes and Kavli Prize Week, including the selection of awardees, biographies and information about the newest and the previous Laureates, recordings of presentations by the Laureates, and, several other items for viewing by the general public (e.g., Popular Science Lectures). This website is highly recommended and very worthy for you to explore independently!
The schedule of events for the 2016 Kavli Prize Week and abstracts for the 2016 Laureate Lectures by the new awardees are given in “The Kavli Prize Week 2016 – Program”. The Kavli Foundation issues educational videos explaining the 3 areas of modern science involving the Kavli Prizes.
The 2016 Kavli Prize Laureates!
The Kavli Prize in Astrophysics (see “2016 Prize in Astrophysics”) is shared between Ronald W. P. Drever (California Institute of Technology, United States), Kip S. Thorne (California Institute of Technology, United States), and Rainer Weiss (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States), for their recent direct detection of gravitational waves after many years of controversy about whether these features of cosmology actually existed (see “Brian Greene Explains the Discovery of Gravitational Waves”; also see “Rainer Weiss”). By persisting in their studies when confronted by failures to detect any gravitational waves, they finally succeeded; their discovery translates theory into practice, and thereby creates a whole new branch of astronomy.
The Kavli Prize in Nanoscience (see “2016 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience: A discussion with Gerd Binnig and Christoph Gerber” ) is shared between Gerd Binnig (IBM Zurich Research Laboratory, Switzerland), Christoph Gerber (University of Basel, Switzerland), and Calvin Quate (Stanford University, United States), for their invention and development of the atomic force microscope. This new tool for research greatly advances imaging of the molecular and atomic structure of nonconducting surfaces, and permits directly measuring surface properties at the level of different atoms. Research with atomic force microscopy now is widely used for nanoscience investigations of many different materials in all 3 branches of science; this instrument is wonderfully versatile, so unexpected new applications continue to develop (e.g., usage for medical diagnosis of cancer patients). Atomic force microscopy took decades of dedicated work to be fully developed and explored. Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer were awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physics for their invention of the scanning tunneling microscope; that innovative new instrument necessarily preceded the invention and development of the atomic force microscope.
The Kavli Prize in Neuroscience (see “2016 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience: A discussion with Eve Marder, Michael Marzenich, and Carla Shatz” ) is shared between Eve Marder (Brandeis University, United States), Michael Marzenich (University of California at San Francisco, United States), and Carla Shatz (Stanford University, United States), for their research showing that the adult brain changes its architecture and functioning from experience and learning (i.e., brain remodeling and neuroplasticity). This new concept is derived from study of several different model systems, and replaces the traditional view that the adult brain is static and can no longer change. Their new model of the brain encourages development of new therapeutic approaches to treat adult human brain dysfunctions (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, senility, trauma, etc.).
All the 2016 Kavli Prize Laureates exemplify the expectation that scientists should be creative individuals who are not afraid to explore new ideas, concepts, and approaches! Their celebrated work has included both basic and applied research, theoretical and experimental studies, and, development of new research methods and instruments. Their outstanding discoveries were the result of persistent dedication to research as a source for new knowledge; their use of collaborative investigations is prominent. The 9 Laureates in 2016 are outstanding researchers, and all serve as good role models for young scientists just beginning their professional careers.
The 2016 Kavli Prizes admirably fulfill the intention of the late Fred Kavli to honor excellence in research, to emphasize the importance of basic science, and to promote public education about scientific research. All people should join in celebrating the new Kavli Prize Laureates!
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