Half of this year's Nobel Prize in Physics goes to the Germans Klaus Hasselmann and Syukuro Manabe from the USA "for the physical modeling of the earth's climate, the quantitative analysis of variations and the reliable prediction of global warming”, and the other half to the Italian Giorgio Parisi "for groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex physical systems." This was announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021 in Stockholm.
Klaus Hasselmann created a model that links weather and climate with one another. "With his methods he was able to prove that the temperature rise in the atmosphere is due to human carbon dioxide emissions," tweeted the Nobel Prize officials.
Syukuro Manabe has demonstrated how an increased carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere leads to a rise in temperatures on the earth's surface. The jury acknowledged that his work laid the foundation for the development of today's climate models.
Giorgio Parisi, on the other hand, discovered hidden patterns in disordered complex materials. His discoveries are, according to the committee, "among the most important contributions to the theory of complex systems and materials." His findings and research would make it possible to understand and describe many different and seemingly completely random complex materials and phenomena, "not just in physics, but also in other areas such as mathematics, biology, neuroscience and machine learning."
The representatives of the Nobel Committee emphasized that the awarding of the award should in no way be interpreted as meaning that it is intended to send a signal to the political leaders of the world. Because whoever did not take the previous research results and recommendations for action seriously at the political level will probably not do so even after the event in Stockholm.
Nevertheless, the awards would make it clear once again that climate research is on a solid scientific basis. The theoretical work of the award winners can now be found in countless practical observations - and these in turn match the forecasts made with the earlier models. The researchers, who are currently dealing with decision-makers around the world, could hardly have hoped for more support.
Since 1901, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded a total of 115 Nobel Prizes in Physics. 47 scientists received the award alone, 32 awards were shared by two and 36 by three awardees. Last year three scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physics: Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford received half of the prize "for discovering that the formation of black holes is a robust prediction of general relativity". The other half went to Reinhard Genzel from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching and the University of California in Berkeley and Andrea Ghez from the University of California in Los Angeles "for the discovery of a supermassive, compact object in the center of the Milky Way" .
A total of 218 scientists received the prize for important discoveries and inventions - John Bardeen even twice. Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen received the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901 for the discovery of the X-rays named after him. The youngest winner was William Lawrence Bragg, aged just 25, and the oldest Arthur Ashkin, aged 96. There are only four women among the previous winners: Marie Curie in 1903, Maria Goeppert-Mayer in 1963, Donna Strickland in 2018 and Andrea Ghez in 2020.