Nobel Prize Winner In Physics To Be Named Today

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The Nobel Prize in Physics will be announced today in Stockholm, Sweden, the second of six Nobel prizes to be announced this month.

Last year, professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov from the University of Manchester in England won the physics prize for “groundbreaking” experiments with the two-dimensional material graphene.

The prize in physics is worth 10 million Swedish kronor (about $1.44 million).

On Monday, the Nobel committee named Ralph Steinman, a biologist with Rockefeller University, and scientists Bruce A. Beutler and Jules A. Hoffmann, the winners of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The announcement came three days after Steinman died of pancreatic cancer at age 68.

The Nobel committee was unaware of his death. Had they known, their own rules would have precluded him being selected as a winner. The decision was made Monday, just before the announcement, Nobel officials said.

“The events that have occurred are unique and, to the best of our knowledge, are unprecedented in the history of the Nobel Prize,” the Nobel Assembly said in a statement, announcing that Steinman will remain a Nobel laureate.

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Making the decision meant circumventing one of the Nobel rules.

The Nobel Prize website states that since 1974, rules have stipulated that a prize “cannot be awarded posthumously, unless death has occurred after the announcement.”

In its statement Monday, the Nobel Assembly said it interpreted “the purpose of the rule” as making sure no one is “deliberately” awarded the prize posthumously. Because the committee did not know of Steinman’s death, the decision “was made in good faith,” the assembly said.

In the coming days, the committee also will announce prizes in chemistry, literature and peace. The prize in economics will be announced Monday.

Since 1901, the committee has handed out the Nobel Prize in Physics 104 times. The youngest recipient was Lawrence Bragg, who won in 1915 at the age of 25. Bragg is not only the youngest physics laureate, he is also the youngest Nobel laureate in any Nobel prize area.

The oldest physics laureate was Raymond Davis Jr., who was 88 years old when he was awarded the prize in 2002.