News / Science & Technology

2011 Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded in Stockholm

The Nobel Committee for Physics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announce the winners of the 2011 Nobel Prize for physics in Stockholm, October 4, 2011.
The Nobel Committee for Physics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announce the winners of the 2011 Nobel Prize for physics in Stockholm, October 4, 2011.

The 2011 Nobel Prize for physics has been awarded to three U.S.-born scientists for "the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe" through observations of exploding stars.

American Saul Perlmutter will share the $1.5 million award with Adam Riess and U.S.-Australian Brian Schmidt.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the discoveries by the scientists "have helped to unveil a universe that to a large extent is unknown to science"

On Monday, the Nobel Prize for Medicine was give to Ralph Steinman, Bruce Beutler and Jules Hoffmann for their work increasing understanding of the immune system, which could lead to curing cancer and other diseases.  It was later discovered that Steinman had died on Friday following a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.

The Nobel Foundation held an emergency meeting Monday, after which it decided that the prize will remain unchanged.

The foundation's statutes say work produced by a person since deceased can not be awarded.  However, the foundation interpreted the rule to mean the Nobel Prize could not deliberately be awarded posthumously.  Since the decision to award the prize to Steinman was made in good faith under the assumption that he was alive, the laureates will remain unchanged.

Beutler and Hoffmann had been scheduled to split half the nearly $1.5 million prize money, while Steinman was to receive the other half.  

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will name the winner in chemistry Wednesday.  An award for economics, given in memory of Alfred Nobel, will be announced October 10.  The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient will be named Friday.

The Nobel Prizes were created by Alfred Nobel, a wealthy Swedish industrialist who invented dynamite.  The first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901.

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