Thursday, October 10, 2019

2019 Nobel Prize in Physics

This has been an exciting week for the Swiss scientific community with the awarding of the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics to James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz. Swiss physicists Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, University of Geneva, were awarded the prize for discovering the first exoplanet orbiting a sun-like star back in 1995. Peebles baged half the prize for “theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology”.

Exoplanets, or extra solar planets, are planets beyond our solar system. This 4 minutes National Geographic video explains their discovery and significance.

In 1995, Professor Michel Mayor and his doctoral student Didier Queloz discovered 51 Pegasi B, a planet orbiting a sun-like star beyond our solar system. Their discovery created great interest in the field and research since then has led to the discovery of around 4,000 exoplanets, some of which might support life. Proxima Centauri b, the closest potentially habitable exoplanet, is 40 trillion km (4.2 light years) from earth.

A 4th physicist, John Goodenough, shared the Chemistry award with Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for the development of lithium-ion batteries.
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