Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Prize season again - updated w/ Kavli winners

Once again the Breakthrough Prize and New Horizons Prize in fundamental physics are seeking nominations.  See here.  I have very mixed feelings about these prizes, given how the high energy theory components seem increasingly disconnected from experiment (and consider that a feature rather than a bug).

On a related note, the Kavli Prizes are being awarded this Thursday.  Past nanowinners are Millie Dresselhaus (2012), Don Eigler (love his current affiliation) and Nadrian Seeman (2010), and Louis Brus and Sumio Iijima (2008).   Not exactly a bunch of underachievers.  Place your bets.  Whitesides?  Alivisatos and Bawendi?

UpdateThomas Ebbeson (extraordinary transmission through deep sub-wavelength apertures, thanks to plasmons), Stefan Hell (stimulated emission depletion microscopy, for deep subwavelength fluorescence microscopy resolution), and John Pendry (perfect lenses and cloaking).  Congratulations all around - all richly deserved.  I do think that the Kavli folks are in a sweet spot for nano prizes, as there is a good-sized pool of outstanding people that has built up, few of whom have been honored already by the Nobel.  This is a bit like the early days of the Nobel prize, though hopefully with much less political infighting (see this book if you really want to be disillusioned about the Nobel process in the early years).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ebbesen's achievements are definitely not comparable to Hell's or Pendry's. EOT and transmission through (corrugated) gold films had been known before, as were surface plasmons. One can get similar transmission through a corrugated film WITHOUT a hole. That NATURE 1998 paper was just a cleverly sold package of already known stuff.

Hell's achievement, however, is REALLY new, and at least Pendry triggered a new field with metamaterials. One might credit Ebbesen for the revival of surface plasmons, which had been an active research field since the 50's (Ritchie, etc.)

One prize too much for Nano, in my humble opinion. But what the heck, Ebbesen is Norwegian...