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Home > Press > Nine scientific pioneers receive the 2014 Kavli Prizes

Abstract:
The Kavli Prize in Astrophysics is shared between Alan H. Guth, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, Andrei D. Linde, Stanford University, USA, and Alexei A. Starobinsky, Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia. They receive the prize "for pioneering the theory of cosmic inflation". The theory of cosmic inflation, proposed and developed by the three prize winners, has revolutionized our thinking about the Universe.

Nine scientific pioneers receive the 2014 Kavli Prizes

Norway | Posted on May 29th, 2014

According to this theory, very soon after our universe came into existence it underwent a short-lived phase of exponential expansion. During this brief period the universe expanded by a huge factor - hence the name inflation. The consequences of this episode were momentous for the evolution of the cosmos. The field of inflation theory now occupies thousands of theorists, and many variations of inflation are being actively debated.

The Kavli Prize in Nanoscience is shared between Thomas W. Ebbesen, Université Louis Pasteur, Université de Strasbourg, France, Stefan W. Hell, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Germany, and Sir John B. Pendry, Imperial College London, UK.

They receive the prize "for transformative contributions to the field of nano-optics that have broken long-held beliefs about the limitations of the resolution limits of optical microscopy and imaging".

With their respective work, they have challenged established beliefs about the resolution limits of optical imaging, showing that light can interact with nanostructures smaller than its wavelength.

Seeing at the ‘nanoscale' was long considered to be limited in visible resolution by the finite wavelength of ‘light', so that only objects larger than ~ 200 nanometers could be imaged. This is about 100 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

Each of this year's prize winners, through their different insights and routes, has independently advanced our ability to ‘see' nanostructures using ‘ordinary' light. This ability to see and image nanoscale objects is a critical prerequisite to further advances in the broader field of nanoscience.

The Kavli Prize in Neuroscience is shared between Brenda Milner, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Canada, John O'Keefe, University College London, UK, and Marcus E. Raichle, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, USA. They receive the prize "for the discovery of specialized brain networks for memory and cognition".

The recipients of the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience have all played major roles in advancing our understanding of memory and in the development of techniques to measure the brain. They have discovered that these functions are produced by specialized systems in the brain, which they analysed through a variety of research approaches. They have found the specific regions of the brain that are involved in memory, and how specialized nerve cells perform different roles.

The higher cognitive functions of our brains such as attention, memory, and planning are crucial to create our rich mental lives: memory is essential for humans, from the recognition of where we are, through learning new skills, to being able to recall events. In humans memory can be said to define who we are, and we know that loss of memory can have devastating effects on an individual's personality. Knowing how memory function should work in healthy people could open the door to understanding what has changed in patients with dementia and memory loss.

About the Kavli Prizes

The Kavli Prize is a partnership between The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, The Kavli Foundation (USA) and The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. The Kavli Prizes were initiated by and named after Fred Kavli (1927 - 2013), founder of The Kavli Foundation which is dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity, promoting public understanding of scientific research, and supporting scientists and their work.

Kavli Prize recipients are chosen biennially by three prize committees comprised of distinguished international scientists recommended by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the French Academy of Sciences, the Max Planck Society, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Society. After making their selection for award recipients, the recommendations of these prize committees are confirmed by The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

The 2014 Kavli Prizes will be awarded in Oslo, Norway, on the 9th of September. His Majesty King Harald will present the prizes to the laureates. This year's ceremony will be hosted by Alan Alda and Haddy N'jie.

The ceremony is part of Kavli Prize Week - a week of special programs that celebrate extraordinary achievements in science, educate the public on important scientific advances, and bring together distinguished members of the international community to discuss key global issues in science and science policy.

####

About The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters
The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, founded in 1857, is a non-governmental, nation-wide, and interdisciplinary body which embraces all fields of learning. The main purpose of the Academy is the advancement of science and scholarship in Norway.
The Academy provides a national forum of communication within and between the various learned disciplines, and it represents Norwegian science in relation to foreign academies and international organisations.

Members
The Academy has 219 ordinary seats for Norwegian members and 183 additional seats for foreign members. The Academy is divided into two divisions, one for the natural sciences and one for the humanities and social sciences. Including members over 67 years of age, there are 830 members.

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