Nine “pioneering scientists” were named on Thursday as this year’s winners of the Kavli Prizes, founded by the late Norwegian scientist and industrialist Fred Kavli. Among them was a Norwegian researcher in nanoscience, Thomas W Ebbesen.
The Kavli Prizes are awarded through a partnership between the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, the Kavli Foundation of the US and Norway’s education ministry. Kavli initiated and funded the prizes to advance science “for the benefit of humanity,” promote public understanding of scientific research and support scientists and their work.
The Kavli Prize in Nanoscience was shared by Ebbesen of the University of Strasbourg in France with Stefan W Hell of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemisty in Germany and Sir John B Pendry of Imperial College London in the UK. They were cited for their “transformative contributions to field of nano-optics that have broken long-held beliefs about the limitations of the resolution limits of optical microscopy and imaging.” Their work, according to the Kavli jury, has challenged established beliefs about the resolution limits of optical imaging, showing that light can interact with nanostructures smaller than its wavelengths.
The Kavli Prize in Astrophysics was shared by Alan H Guth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, Andrei D Linde of Stanford University in California and Alexei A Starobinsky of the Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. They won the prize “for pioneering theory of cosmic inflation,” which they proposed and developed and which, the jury claimed, “has revolutionized our thinking about the universe.”
The Kavli Prize in Neuroscience was shared between Brenda Milner of the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University in Canada, John O’Keefe at University College in London, UK and Marcus E Raichle of Washington University in St Louis, Missouri in the US. They received the prize “for the discovery of specialized brain networks for memory and cognition.” All were said to have played major roles “in advancing our understanding of memory and in the development of techniques to measure the brain.”
The prizes will be presented in Oslo by Norway’s King Harald on September 9 during a week of special scientific programs organized by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.