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nobel laureates in physics

Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has been honoring men and women from all corners of the globe for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and for work in peace. The foundations for the prize were laid in 1895 when Alfred Nobel wrote his last will, leaving much of his wealth to the establishment of the Nobel Prize.

Nobel laureates in physics
year laureate(s) achievement
2021 Syukuro Manabe
Klaus Hasselmann
Giorgio Parisi
for groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex systems; [Manabe and Hasselmann] for the physical modelling of Earth's climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming; [Parisi] for the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales.
2020 Roger Penrose
Reinhard Genzel
Andrea Ghez
[Penrose] for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity, [Genzel and Ghez] for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy.
2019 James Peebles
Michel Mayor
Didier Queloz
for contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth's place in the cosmos, [Peebles] for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology, [Mayor and Queloz] for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star.
2018 Arthur Ashkin
Gérard Mourou
Donna Strickland
for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics, [Ashkin] for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems, [Mourou and Strickland] for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses
2017 Rainer Weiss
Barry C. Barish
Kip Thorne
for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves
2016 David J. Thouless
F. Duncan M. Haldane
J. Michael Kosterlitz
for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter
2015 Takaaki Kajita
Arthur B. McDonald
for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass
2014 Isamu Akasaki
Hiroshi Amano
Shuji Nakamura
for the invention of efficient blue light emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources
2013 François Englert
Peter Higgs
for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider
2012 Serge Haroche
David J. Wineland
for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems
2011 Saul Perlmutter
Brian P. Schmidt
Adam G. Riess
for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe through observations of distant supernovae
2010 Andre Geim
Konstantin Novoselov
for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene
2009 Charles K. Kao
Willard S. Boyle
George E. Smith
[Kao] for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication, [Boyle and Smith] for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit – the CCD sensor
2008 Yoichiro Nambu
Makoto Kobayashi
Toshihide Maskawa
[Nambu] for the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics, [Kobayashi and Maskawa] for the discovery of the origin of the broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature
2007 Albert Fert
Peter Grünberg
for the discovery of giant magnetoresistance
2006 John C. Mather
George F. Smoot
for their discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation
2005 Roy J. Glauber
John L. Hall
Theodor W. Hänsch
[Glauber] for his contribution to the quantum theory of optical coherence, [Hall and Hänsch] for their contributions to the development of laser-based precision spectroscopy, including the optical frequency comb technique
2004 David J. Gross
H. David Politzer
Frank Wilczek
for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction
2003 Alexei A. Abrikosov
Vitaly L. Ginzburg
Anthony J. Leggett
for pioneering contributions to the theory of superconductors and superfluids
2002 Raymond Davis Jr.
Masatoshi Koshiba
Riccardo Giacconi
for pioneering contributions to astrophysics, [Davis and Koshiba] for the detection of cosmic neutrinos, [Giacconi] for pioneering contributions to astrophysics, which have led to the discovery of cosmic x-ray sources
2001 Eric A. Cornell
Wolfgang Ketterle
Carl E. Wieman
for the achievement of Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases of alkali atoms, and for early fundamental studies of the properties of the condensates
2000 Zhores Alferov
Herbert Kroemer
Jack Kilby
for basic work on information and communication technology, [Alferov and Kroemer] for developing semiconductor heterostructures used in high-speed- and opto-electronics, [Kilby] for his part in the invention of the integrated circuit
1999 Gerard 't Hooft
Martinus Veltman
for elucidating the quantum structure of electroweak interactions in physics
1998 Robert Laughlin
Horst Störmer
Daniel Tsui
for their discovery of a new form of quantum fluid with fractionally charged excitations
1997 Steven Chu
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji
William Phillips
for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light
1996 David Lee
Douglas Osheroff
Robert Richardson
for their discovery of superfluidity in helium-3
1995 Martin Perl
Frederick Reines
for pioneering experimental contributions to lepton physics, [Perl] for the discovery of the tau lepton, [Reines] for the detection of the [tau] neutrino
1994 Bertram Brockhouse
Clifford Shull
for pioneering contributions to the development of neutron scattering techniques for studies of condensed matte, [Brockhouse] for the development of neutron spectroscopy, [Shull] for the development of the neutron diffraction technique
1993 Russell Hulse
Joseph Taylor
for the discovery of a new type of pulsar, a discovery that has opened up new possibilities for the study of gravitation
1992 Georges Charpak for his invention and development of particle detectors, in particular the multiwire proportional chamber
1991 Pierre-Gilles de Gennes for discovering that methods developed for studying order phenomena in simple systems can be generalized to more complex forms of matter, in particular to liquid crystals and polymers
1990 Jerome Friedman
Henry Kendall
Richard Taylor
for their pioneering investigations concerning deep inelastic scattering of electrons on protons and bound neutrons, which have been of essential importance for the development of the quark model in particle physics
1989 Norman Ramsey
Hans Dehmelt
Wolfgang Paul
[Ramsey] for the invention of the separated oscillatory fields method and its use in the hydrogen maser and other atomic clocks, [Dehmelt and Paul] for the development of the ion trap technique
1988 Leon Lederman
Melvin Schwartz
Jack Steinberger
for the neutrino beam method and the demonstration of the doublet structure of the leptons through the discovery of the muon neutrino
1987 Georg Bednorz
Alex Müller
for their important break-through in the discovery of superconductivity in ceramic materials
1986 Ernst Ruska
Gerd Binnig
Heinrich Rohrer
[Ruska] for his fundamental work in electron optics, and for the design of the first electron microscope, [Rohrer] for their design of the scanning tunneling microscope
1985 Klaus von Klitzing for the discovery of the quantized Hall effect
1984 Carlo Rubbia
Simon van der Meer
for their decisive contributions to the large project, which led to the discovery of the field particles W and Z, communicators of weak interaction
1983 Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
William Fowler
[Chandrasekhar] for his theoretical studies of the physical processes of importance to the structure and evolution of the stars, [Fowler] for his theoretical and experimental studies of the nuclear reactions of importance in the formation of the chemical elements in the universe
1982 Kenneth Wilson for his theory for critical phenomena in connection with phase transitions
1981 Nicolaas Bloembergen
Arthur Schawlow
Kai Siegbahn
[Bloembergen and Schawlow] for their contribution to the development of laser spectroscopy, [Siegbahn] for his contribution to the development of high-resolution electron spectroscopy
1980 James Cronin
Val Fitch
for the discovery of violations of fundamental symmetry principles in the decay of neutral K-mesons
1979 Sheldon Glashow
Abdus Salam
Steven Weinberg
for their contributions to the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles, including, inter alia, the prediction of the weak neutral current
1978 Pyotr Kapitsa
Arno Penzias
Robert Wilson
[Kapitsa] for his basic inventions and discoveries in the area of low-temperature physics, [Penzias and Wilson] for their discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation
1977 Philip Anderson
Nevill Mott
John van Vleck
for their fundamental theoretical investigations of the electronic structure of magnetic and disordered systems
1976 Burton Richter
Samuel Ting
for their pioneering work in the discovery of a heavy elementary particle of a new kind
1975 Aage Bohr
Ben Mottelson
Leo Rainwater
for the discovery of the connection between collective motion and particle motion in atomic nuclei and the development of the theory of the structure of the atomic nucleus based on this connection
1974 Martin Ryle
Antony Hewish
for their pioneering research in radio astrophysics: Ryle for his observations and inventions, in particular of the aperture synthesis technique, and Hewish for his decisive role in the discovery of pulsars
1973 Leo Esaki
Ivar Giaever
Brian Josephson
[Esaki and Giaever] for their experimental discoveries regarding tunneling phenomena in semiconductors and superconductors, respectively, [Josephson] for his theoretical predictions of the properties of a supercurrent through a tunnel barrier, in particular those phenomena which are generally known as the Josephson effects
1972 John Bardeen
Leon Cooper
John Schrieffer
for their jointly developed theory of superconductivity, usually called the BCS-theory
1971 Dennis Gabor for his invention and development of the holographic method
1970 Hannes Alfvén
Louis Néel
[Alfvén] for fundamental work and discoveries in magneto-hydrodynamics with fruitful applications in different parts of plasma physics, [Néel] for fundamental work and discoveries concerning antiferromagnetism and ferrimagnetism which have led to important applications in solid state physics
1969 Murray Gell-Mann for his contributions and discoveries concerning the classification of elementary particles and their interactions
1968 Luis Alvarez for his decisive contributions to elementary particle physics, in particular the discovery of a large number of resonance states, made possible through his development of the technique of using hydrogen bubble chamber and data analysis
1967 Hans Bethe for his contributions to the theory of nuclear reactions, especially his discoveries concerning the energy production in stars
1966 Alfred Kastler for the discovery and development of optical methods for studying Hertzian resonances in atoms
1965 Sin-Itiro Tomonaga
Julian Schwinger
Richard Feynman
for their fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics, with deep-ploughing consequences for the physics of elementary particles
1964 Charles Townes
Nicolay Basov
Aleksandr Prokhorov
for fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics, which has led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers based on the maser-laser principle
1963 Eugene Wigner
Maria Goeppert-Mayer
Hans Jensen
[Wigner] for his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles, [Mayer and Jensen] for their discoveries concerning nuclear shell structure
1962 Lev Landau for his pioneering theories for condensed matter, especially liquid helium
1961 Robert Hofstadter
Rudolf Mössbauer
[Hofstadter] for his pioneering studies of electron scattering in atomic nuclei and for his thereby achieved discoveries concerning the stucture of the nucleons, [Mössbauer] for his researches concerning the resonance absorption of gamma radiation and his discovery in this connection of the effect which bears his name
1960 Donald Glaser for the invention of the bubble chamber
1959 Emilio Segrè
Owen Chamberlain
for their discovery of the antiproton
1958 Pavel Cherenkov
Ilya Frank
Igor Tamm
for the discovery and the interpretation of the Cherenkov effect
1957 Chen Ning Yang
Tsung-Dao Lee
for their penetrating investigation of the so-called parity laws which has led to important discoveries regarding the elementary particles
1956 William Shockley
John Bardeen
Walter Brattain
for their researches on semiconductors and their discovery of the transistor effect
1955 Willis Lamb
Polykarp Kusch
[Lamb] for his discoveries concerning the fine structure of the hydrogen spectrum, [Kusch] for his precision determination of the magnetic moment of the electron
1954 Max Born
Walther Bothe
[Born] for his fundamental research in quantum mechanics, especially for his statistical interpretation of the wavefunction, [Bothe] for the coincidence method and his discoveries made therewith
1953 Frits Zernike for his demonstration of the phase contrast method, especially for his invention of the phase contrast microscope
1952 Felix Bloch
Edward Purcell
for their development of new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements and discoveries in connection therewith
1951 John Cockcroft
Ernest Walton
for their pioneer work on the transmutation of atomic nuclei by artificially accelerated atomic particles
1950 Cecil Powell for his development of the photographic method of studying nuclear processes and his discoveries regarding mesons made with this method
1949 Hideki Yukawa for his prediction of the existence of mesons on the basis of theoretical work on nuclear forces
1948 Patrick Blackett for his development of the Wilson cloud chamber method, and his discoveries therewith in the fields of nuclear physics and cosmic radiation
1947 Edward Appleton for his investigations of the physics of the upper atmosphere especially for the discovery of the so-called Appleton layer
1946 Percy Bridgman for the invention of an apparatus to produce extremely high pressures, and for the discoveries he made therewith in the field of high pressure physics
1945 Wolfgang Pauli for the discovery of the Exclusion Principle, also called the Pauli Principle
1944 I.I. Rabi for his resonance method for recording the magnetic properties of atomic nuclei
1943 Otto Stern for his contribution to the development of the molecular ray method and his discovery of the magnetic moment of the proton
1942
1941
1940
1939 Ernest Lawrence for the invention and development of the cyclotron and for results obtained with it, especially with regard to artificial radioactive elements
1938 Enrico Fermi for his demonstrations of the existence of new radioactive elements produced by neutron irradiation, and for his related discovery of nuclear reactions brought about by slow neutrons
1937 Clinton Davisson
George Thomson
for their experimental discovery of the diffraction of electrons by crystals
1936 Victor Hess
Carl Anderson
[Hess] for his discovery of cosmic radiation, [Anderson] for his discovery of the positron
1935 James Chadwick for the discovery of the neutron
1934
1933 Erwin Schrödinger
Paul Dirac
for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory
1932 Werner Heisenberg for the creation of quantum mechanics, the application of which has, inter alia, led to the discovery of the allotropic forms of hydrogen
1931
1930 C.V. Raman for his work on the scattering of light and for the discovery of the effect named after him
1929 Louis de Broglie for his discovery of the wave nature of electrons
1928 Owen Richardson for his work on the thermionic phenomenon and especially for the discovery of the law named after him
1927 Arthur Compton
Charles Wilson
[Compton] for his discovery of the effect named after him, [Wilson] for his method of making the paths of electrically charged particles visible by condensation of vapour
1926 Jean Perrin for his work on the discontinuous structure of matter, and especially for his discovery of sedimentation equilibrium
1925 James Franck
Gustav Hertz
for their discovery of the laws governing the impact of an electron upon an atom
1924 Karl Siegbahn for his discoveries and research in the field of x-ray spectroscopy
1923 Robert Millikan for his work on the elementary charge of electricity and on the photoelectric effect
1922 Niels Bohr for his services in the investigation of the structure of atoms and of the radiation emanating from them
1921 Albert Einstein for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect
1920 Charles Guillaume in recognition of the service he has rendered to precision measurements in Physics by his discovery of anomalies in nickel steel alloys
1919 Johannes Stark for his discovery of the Doppler effect in canal rays and the splitting of spectral lines in electric fields
1918 Max Planck in recognition of the services he rendered to the advancement of Physics by his discovery of energy quanta
1917 Charles Barkla for his discovery of the characteristic Röntgen radiation of the elements
1916
1915 William Henry Bragg
William Lawrence Bragg
for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of x-rays
1914 Max von Laue for his discovery of the diffraction of x-rays by crystals
1913 Heike Kamerlingh Onnes for his investigations on the properties of matter at low temperatures which led, inter alia, to the production of liquid helium
1912 Nils Dalén for his invention of automatic regulators for use in conjunction with gas accumulators for illuminating lighthouses and buoys
1911 Wilhelm Wien for his discoveries regarding the laws governing the radiation of heat
1910 Johannes van der Waals for his work on the equation of state for gases and liquids
1909 Guglielmo Marconi
Carl Braun
in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy
1908 Gabriel Lippmann for his method of reproducing colours photographically based on the phenomenon of interference
1907 Albert Michelson for his optical precision instruments and the spectroscopic and metrological investigations carried out with their aid
1906 J.J. Thomson in recognition of the great merits of his theoretical and experimental investigations on the conduction of electricity by gases
1905 Philipp Lenard for his work on cathode rays
1904 John Strutt, Lord Rayleigh for his investigations of the densities of the most important gases and for his discovery of argon in connection with these studies
1903 Henri Becquerel
Pierre Curie
Marie Curie
[Becquerel] in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by his discovery of spontaneous radioactivity, [the Curies] in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel
1902 Hendrik Lorentz
Pieter Zeeman
in recognition of the extraordinary service they rendered by their researches into the influence of magnetism upon radiation phenomena
1901 Wilhelm Röntgen in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the remarkable rays subsequently named after him

ig nobel laureates in physics

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.

Ig Nobel laureates in physics
year laureate(s) achievement
2020 Alessandro Corbetta
Jasper Meeusen
Chung-Min Lee
Roberto Benzi
Federico Toschi
for conducting experiments to learn why pedestrians do not constantly collide with other pedestrians
2020 Ivan Maksymov
Andriy Pototsky
for determining, experimentally, what happens to the shape of a living earthworm when one vibrates the earthworm at high frequency
2019 Patricia Yang
Alexander Lee
Miles Chan
Alynn Martin
Ashley Edwards
Scott Carver
David Hu
for studying how, and why, wombats make cube-shaped poo
2018
2017 Marc-Antoine Fardin for using fluid dynamics to probe the question "Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?"
2016 Gábor Horváth
Miklós Blahó
György Kriska
Ramón Hegedüs
Balázs Gerics
Róbert Farkas
Susanne Åkesson
Péter Malik
Hansruedi Wildermuth
for discovering why white-haired horses are the most horsefly-proof horses, and for discovering why dragonflies are fatally attracted to black tombstones
2015 Patricia J. Yang
Jonathan C. Pham
Jerome Choo
David L. Hu
for testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds ± 13 seconds
2014 Kiyoshi Mabuchi
Kensei Tanaka
Daichi Uchijima
Rina Sakai
for measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that's on the floor
2013 Alberto E. Minetti
Yuri P. Ivanenko
Germana Cappellini
Nadia Dominici
Francesco Lacquaniti
for discovering that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond — if those people, and that pond, were on the Moon
2012 Joseph Keller
Raymond Goldstein
Patrick Warren
Robin Ball
for calculating the balance of forces that shape and move the hair in a human ponytail
2011 Philippe Perrin
Cyril Perrot
Dominique Deviterne
Bruno Ragaru
Herman Kingma
for determining why discus throwers become dizzy, and why hammer throwers don't
2010 Lianne Parkin
Sheila Williams
Patricia Priest
for demonstrating that, on icy footpaths in wintertime, people slip and fall less often if they wear socks on the outside of their shoes
2009 Katherine K. Whitcome
Daniel E. Lieberman
Liza J. Shapiro
for analytically determining why pregnant women don't tip over
2008 Dorian Raymer
Douglas Smith
for proving mathematically that heaps of string or hair or almost anything else will inevitably tangle themselves up in knots
2007 L. Mahadevan
Enrique Cerda
for studying how sheets become wrinkled
2006 Basile Audoly
Sebastien Neukirch
for their insights into why, when you bend dry spaghetti, it often breaks into more than two pieces
2005 John Mainstone
Thomas Parnell
for patiently conducting an experiment that began in the year 1927 in which a glob of congealed black tar has been slowly, slowly dripping through a funnel, at a rate of approximately one drop every nine years
2004 Ramesh Balasubramaniam
Michael Turvey
for exploring and explaining the dynamics of hula-hooping
2003 Jack Harvey
John Culvenor
Warren Payne
Steve Cowley
Michael Lawrance
David Stuart
Robyn Williams
for their irresistible report "An analysis of the forces required to drag sheep over various surfaces"
2002 Arnd Leike for demonstrating that beer froth obeys the mathematical Law of Exponential Decay
2001 David Schmidt for his partial solution to the question of why shower curtains billow inwards
2000 Andre Geim
Michael Berry
for using magnets to levitate a frog
1999 Len Fisher
Jean-Marc Vanden-Broeck
Joseph Keller
[Fisher] for calculating the optimal way to dunk a biscuit, [Vanden-Broeck and Keller] for calculating how to make a teapot spout that does not drip
1998 Deepak Chopra for his unique interpretation of quantum physics as it applies to life, liberty, and the pursuit of economic happiness
1997 John Bockris for his wide-ranging achievements in cold fusion, in the transmutation of base elements into gold, and in the electrochemical incineration of domestic rubbish
1996 Robert Matthews for his studies of Murphy's Law, and especially for demonstrating that toast often falls on the buttered side
1995 D.M.R. Georget
R. Parker
A.C. Smith
for their rigorous analysis of soggy breakfast cereal, published in the report entitled "A Study of the Effects of Water Content on the Compaction Behaviour of Breakfast Cereal Flakes"
1994
1993 Louis Kervran for his conclusion that the calcium in chickens' eggshells is created by a process of cold fusion
1992 David Chorley
Doug Bower
for their circular contributions to field theory based on the geometrical destruction of English crops
1991

names that appear in this book