Washington — The 2012 Nobel Prizes recognized five Americans for groundbreaking work in the fields of physics, chemistry and economics.
David J. Wineland of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Serge Haroche of France for their work in observing the behavior of individual quantum systems. Wineland’s prize-winning work involves holding charged ions in electric fields and using laser beams to manipulate them. Most of Wineland’s work in this area has derived from the goal of creating more accurate clocks.
Alvin Roth of Harvard University and Lloyd Shapley of the University of California, Los Angeles, won the Nobel Prize in Economics “for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said. The two men’s work is in the field of matching theory, a mathematical framework for devising mutually beneficial connections. Their work has far-ranging practical applications that include the assignment of new doctors to hospitals, students to schools, and human organs for transplant to recipients.
Robert J. Lefkowitz of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, and Brian K. Kobilka of Stanford University in California shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work in understanding how cell receptors help the human body respond to external factors, such as a physical threat, on the cellular level.
The Nobel Prizes are administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden, and have been awarded internationally since 1901. The prize in each field is 8 million Swedish kronor, or about $1.2 million. The prize is named for its founder, Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, engineer and armaments manufacturer.