Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry, 2016

  • Any prize structure can be usefully viewed through a lens that includes politics, power, privilege, identity, diversity, equity, and access. Nevertheless, the Nobel Prizes in science do reflect important advances in the field.
  • The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2016 was awarded for for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”. A popular science level explanation is available here and a more advanced explanation is available here.
  • The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2016 was awarded for “for the design and synthesis of molecular machines”. A popular science level explanation is available here and a more advanced explanation is available here.
  • Both topics this year involve topology (that’s not as clear from the brief title for the chemistry prize), so there’s a wonderful application of a pure math topic to the physical world (sorry, pure mathematicians).