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Evolutionary geneticist, quantum physicists awarded Nobel prizes

By Julian Shea in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-10-06 01:29

Three researchers working in the field of quantum mechanics have been named as the joint winners of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics, after an announcement by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, as the annual week of prize-giving continues.

On Monday, Swedish geneticist Svante Paabo, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, was announced as the winner of the gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor ($915,000) for this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and on Tuesday Frenchman Alain Aspect, John F Clauser from the United States and Anton Zeilinger from Austria were announced as the joint winners of the physics prize, sharing the prize money equally.

A statement on the Nobel Institute website said the trio had used "groundbreaking experiments to demonstrate the potential to investigate and control particles that are in entangled states. What happens to one particle in an entangled pair determines what happens to the other, even if they are really too far apart to affect each other", adding that their work had "laid the foundation for a new era of quantum technology".

Paabo was honored for accomplishing "something seemingly impossible: sequencing the genome of the Neanderthal, an extinct relative of present-day humans … this ancient flow of genes to present-day humans has physiological relevance today".

The Guardian newspaper reported that among the Neanderthal genes identified are some that impact on the immune system's response to infections, including the risk of severe COVID-19.

Nobel committee member Anna Wedell said Paabo's groundbreaking work "allows us to address one of the most fundamental questions of all: what makes us unique"?

Previous winners of the physics prize include, in 1903, Pierre and Marie Curie, the first husband and wife to win. She was also the first woman to win a Nobel prize, and the first person to win two Nobel prizes in two scientific fields, having also won the 1911 chemistry prize. Her daughter Irene also won the chemistry prize in 1935.

This year's remaining prize winners, in chemistry, literature, for peace, and economics, will be announced on Oct 5, 6, 7 and 10, all in Stockholm, except for the peace prize, which, as set down in the will of the Nobel prizes founder Alfred Nobel, is announced in the Norwegian capital Oslo.

In Stockholm, the medals and diplomas are presented by Sweden's King Carl Gustaf, and in Norway they are given by King Harald. All laureates must deliver a lecture to receive their prize, and on Dec 10 they are all honored with a banquet in Oslo, with a specially compiled menu designed for the occasion.

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