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In pictures: Meet the 2020 Nobel prize winners

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics with one half to Roger Penrose and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez

Roger Penrose

Roger Penrose

Roger Penrose
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Credits: @NobelPrize

Three physicists won this year’s Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for discoveries related black holes. Black holes are the all-consuming monsters that lurk in the darkest parts of the universe. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said that Briton Roger Penrose will receive half of this year’s prize “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity.” Roger Penrose was born in 1931 in Colchester, UK. He is a professor at University of Oxford. Penrose proved with mathematics that the formation of black holes was possible, based heavily on Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. “Einstein did not himself believe that black holes really exist, these super-heavyweight monsters that capture everything that enters them,” it said. “Nothing can escape, not even light.”

Reinhard Genzel

Reinhard Genzel
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Reinhard Genzel snapped after he discovered he had been awarded the Nobel Prize (Credits: @NobelPrize)

Goran K. Hansson, the academy’s secretary-general, said German Reinhard Genzel and American Andrea Ghez will receive the second half of the prize “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy.” Reinhard Genzel was born in 1952 in Bad Homburg vor der Höhe, Germany. He is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany and a professor at University of California, Berkeley, USA. Penrose’s detailed his studies in 1965, but it wasn't until the 1990s that Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez, each leading a group of astronomers, trained their sights on the dust-covered center of our Milky Way galaxy, a region called Sagittarius A(asterisk), where something strange was going on. They both found that there was “an extremely heavy, invisible object that pulls on the jumble of stars, causing them to rush around at dizzying speeds.” It was a black hole. Not just an ordinary black hole, but a supermassive black hole, 4 million times the mass of our sun.

Andrea Ghez

Andrea Ghez
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Credits: @NobelPrize

Andrea Ghez, was born in 1965 in the City of New York, USA. She is a professor at University of California, Los Angeles, USA.  Now scientists know that all galaxies have supermassive black holes.“We have no idea what’s inside the black hole and that’s what makes these things such exotic objects,’’ Ghez said, speaking to reporters by phone shortly after the announcement. “That’s part of the intrigue that we still don’t know. It pushes our understanding of the physical world.” In 2019, scientists got the first optical image of a black hole, and Ghez, who was not involved, praised the discovery.“Today we accept these objects are critical to the building blocks of the universe,” she said.

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice
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Alter, Houghton and Rice are seen on a screen as the three laureates as they are declared winners in Stockholm on Friday | Reuters

Americans Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice and British-born scientist Michael Houghton jointly won the Nobel Prize for medicine on Monday for their discovery of the hepatitis C virus, a major source of liver disease that affects millions worldwide. Announcing the prize in Stockholm, the Nobel Committee noted that the trio's work identified a major source of blood-borne hepatitis that couldn't be explained by the previously discovered hepatitis A and B viruses. Their work, dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, has helped saved millions of lives, it said.

The prestigious award

The prestigious award
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The award comes with a gold medal and prize money of 10 million Swedish kronor (more than $1.1 million), courtesy of a bequest left 124 years ago by the prize's creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel. The amount was increased recently to adjust for inflation. The other prizes, to be announced in the coming days, are for outstanding work in the fields of chemistry, literature, peace and economics.