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BLOG: Sweden's Nobel Prize in Physics 2015

Emma Löfgren · 6 Oct 2015, 13:52

Published: 06 Oct 2015 09:56 GMT+02:00
Updated: 06 Oct 2015 13:52 GMT+02:00

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Tuesday, October 6th, The Nobel Prize in Physics

  • Canadian and Japanese duo share 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics

1.52pm See you again tomorrow

If you've started reading this blog only now, here's a round-up of the day, looking at who the winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Physics are and what the discovery was that led to their award.

We'll keep blogging the rest of the Nobel announcements this week. Join us tomorrow when we'll be getting into our right element reporting on the Chemistry award.

1.20pm 'No practical implication -- for now'

The Local's Editor Maddy Savage has interviewed one of the members of the Royal Academy of Sciences about the two winners.

But despite awarding the prize for the winners research on neutrinos, Olle Inganäs, Professor of Biomolecular and Organic Electronics, admitted that it was difficult to explain to the public exactly how the findings are benefiting mankind.

"I don't think there is any practical implication -- for now."

In fact he said that if anything, the discovery that neutrinos have mass, when it was previously thought that they did not, demonstrates how little we really know about the universe.

"Most of the stuff that's out there we don't understand," he said with a smile.

He added that he was happy that McDonald had described Stockholm as one of his favourite cities when speaking to journalists via a phone conference call.

"I think it's nice for Sweden to get a mention like that -- and Stockholm of course -- and I think it's also probably quite obvious because if you've lived in Canada all your life you've learned to appreciate the attractions of a somewhat cold climate."

1.10pm Let's hear from the experts

Our Editor Maddy Savage has managed to grab an interview with Olle Inganäs, Professor of Biomolecular and Organic Electronics and member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, which picked the two Nobel Prize in Physics winners. Stay tuned to find out what he had to say.

12.40pm Neutrinos are everywhere

Here's a bit more of what the Royal Academy of Sciences' Nobel Committee had to say about why the discoveries made by this year's winners are so significant:

"The discovery rewarded with this year's Nobel Prize in Physics has yielded crucial insights into the all but hidden world of neutrinos. After photons, the particles of light, neutrinos are the most numerous in the entire cosmos. The Earth is constantly bombarded by them."

"Many neutrinos are created in reactions between cosmic radiation and the Earth's atmosphere. Others are produced in nuclear reactions inside the Sun. Thousands of billions of neutrinos are streaming through our bodies each second. Hardly anything can stop them passing; neutrinos are nature's most elusive elementary particles."

12.31pm The one who got away

Despite the Nobel committees being known for their love of the element of surprise, a lot of potential names are always kicked around ahead of the award announcements.

One of these is Danish physicist Lene Hau. Although she didn't get her turn in the global spotlight this year, our sister site The Local Denmark put together this list anyway: Ten things you should know about Denmark's Lene Hau.

Lene Hau. Photo: Justin Ide/Harvard University

12.22pm 'Kind of unbelievable'

Here's an interview with Japanese scientist Takaaki Kajita describing his feelings after winning the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics.

12.19pm Winner profiles in ten seconds

So, who are the two winners? Well, Arthur B McDonald is born and raised in Canada and is Professor Emeritus at Queen's University in Kingston. Takaaki Kajita is the Director of Institute for Cosmic Ray Research as well as Professor at the University of Tokyo in Japan.

12.15pm Time to get packing for Stockholm?

That's the phone call with McDonald over. He says he looks forward to visiting Stockholm for the major Nobel awards ceremony in December: "It's one of my favourite cities in the world."

12.10pm The two winners

McDonald received the phone call telling him he had won at 4am. He describes it as "daunting" but says his work is supported by his "friendly" Canadian colleagues.

Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B McDonald. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

12.03pm Calling Professor McDonald

They now have Arthur B McDonald, one of the winners, on the phone. It's very early morning in Canada, where he is based.

12.00pm Neutrino what now?

Here's a bit more information about neutrinos.

11.55am Who are the winners?

Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B McDonald were jointly awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass".

The Royal Academy of Sciences' experts are now explaining to the media what neutrinos are. It is not the easiest subject to get your head around if you skipped physics class back in school (not that we would ever have done such a thing).

11.50am Winners revealed

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to scientists Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B McDonald.

11.43am How the winners get picked

11.35am Drum roll...

Just 10 minutes to go. But who will win? Who will win?!

11.27am Pic or it didn't happen

A #Nobelselfie... or, oh, oh, a #Nobelfie!

11.25am The countdown begins

Just some 20 minutes to go now before the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics is revealed. Follow the live stream from the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm here.

11.10am Heard the one about Schrödinger's cat? Or not?

We're trying to keep ourselves entertained as we wait for the announcement at 11.45am by coming up with our funniest physics jokes. Share your favourite with us at @TheLocalSweden.

11.05am Not too shabby an office

The Royal Swedish Academy was founded back in 1739 by a whole bunch of clever guys, including famous botanist Carl Linnaeus. It hands out the Nobel Prizes in Physics (today) and Chemistry (tomorrow).

Who needs to be good at spelling when you're allowed to hand out a Nobel Prize anyway?

10.58am The Local's at the scene

Our Editor Maddy Savage has just arrived at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, where the 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics is due to be announced in approximately 45 minutes. It's a sunny, but a bit chilly, autumn day in Stockholm.

10.55am Who picks the laureates?

The Nobel Prize in Physics is presented by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, who selects the laureate(s) by a majority vote held earlier this morning. They may very well be in the process of phoning the lucky winner right at this very moment.

But in 1989 the committee accidentally called the wrong Norman Ramsey to inform him he had won. What a bummer. Imagine getting a phone call telling you you've won the Nobel Prize only to be told minutes later that... er, no... sorry. Oups.

10.40am The man behind the name

"Who's that Alfred Nobel bloke?" I hear you ask. He's the Swede behind the award. After inventing dynamite in 1866 he decided he also wanted to leave something not quite as destructive behind when he passed, and in his will he offered his vast fortune to be shared each year with the best thinkers in a range of academic fields.

10.28am The average Physics laureate

Want to be a Nobel Prize Physics winner? You've got the best shot at taking home the award if you're a 55-year-old man. That's the age of the average laureate, who has only twice been a female scientist.

There has been talk that the various committees handing out the Nobel Prizes are this year trying to boost their gender equality credentials, but one of the experts behind the Medicine award told The Local on Monday that gender was "not a factor" in choosing a recipient.

10.15am The early-morning wake-up call

Yesterday the Nobel Committee said they had struggled to get hold of Medicine laureate Youyou Tu, who had not yet been told she was the winner when the prize was announced.

In this video Staffan Normark, the permanent secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences -- which hands out the Nobel Prize in Physics -- reveals what it's like making that first phone call to the winners.

10.00am Fun facts

Did you know that 108 Nobel Prizes in Physics have been handed out so far? The youngest person ever to receive the prestigious gong was Lawrence Bragg, who was awarded the prize at the age of 25 in 1915 together with his father. It all runs in the family.

9.55am And so the day begins

Good morning and welcome to the second day of Sweden's Nobel Prize announcements. Written in the stars today: Physics.

The Local's Editor Maddy Savage is already on her way to the Royal Swedish Academy of Science in Stockholm where the 2015 winners will be revealed at 11.45am. Our Deputy Editor Emma Löfgren is live blogging the announcement for you.

Story continues below…

To help us kill (the relativity of space and) time while we count down the minutes to the announcement, tweet your best physics jokes to us @TheLocalSweden.

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Emma Löfgren (emma.lofgren@thelocal.com)

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