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Presented the 2016 Kavli Prizes

Today the winners of the 2016 Kavli Prize were honoured in Oslo Concert Hall. His Royal Highness The Crown Prince Regent presented the prizes.


The Kavli Prizes recognise pioneering contributions in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience. Winners are selected by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and each prize consists of USD 1 million.

Nine laureates

This year the prize in astrophysics went to Ronald W. P. Drever (Scotland), Kip S. Thorne (US) and Rainer Weiss (US) “for the direct detection of gravitational waves”, which were registered by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave (LIGO) Observatory in the US last year. This validated Einstein’s 100-year-old theory of general relativity.

The winners in the category of nanoscience – Gerd Binning (Germany), Christoph Gerber (Switzerland) and Calvin Quate (US) – received the prize “for the invention and realisation of atomic force microscopy, a breakthrough in measurement technology and nanosculpting that continues to have a transformative impact on nanoscience and technology.” Atomic force microscopy, first developed by the laureates in the 1980s, allows scientists to view material at the atomic level and opens up the possibility of experimenting with DNA.

Eve Marder, Carla J. Shatz and Michael M. Merzenich, all from the US, were co-recipients of the prize in neuroscience. Each of these three scientists has challenged the assumption that the brain is most receptive to learning at a young age. They received the prize “for the discovery of mechanisms that allow experience and neural activity to remodel brain function” – in other words, that the adult brain is also flexible and capable of remodelling.

Prior to the awards ceremony in the concert hall, eight of the laureates were granted an audience with the Crown Prince Regent at the Royal Palace. Ronald W. P. Drever was not able to travel to Oslo, but the researcher’s brother accepted the prize on his behalf.

Awarded for the fifth time

The Kavli Prizes in astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience are presented every other year, and were awarded for the first time in 2008.

The prize bears the name of Norwegian-American businessman Fred Kavli, who originally founded the prize. Mr Kavli died in November 2013 at 86 years of age.

Read more about the laureates and their research at the link.



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