Harvard’s Nobel Laureates
Established in 1895 by the Swedish chemist and inventor of dynamite Alfred Bernhard Nobel, the Nobel Prize is an annual award acknowledging outstanding contributions to physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace. Currently, 50 Harvard faculty have been honored with this prestigious award while working at Harvard.
A pioneering theoretical physicist from the dawn of the atomic age, Roy Glauber updated the theory of the nature of light from its origins in the 19th century to include modern quantum principles. He helped explain how light can travel in the form of quanta (particles) as well as rays or waves.
A die-hard Red Sox fan, Dudley Herschbach describes his research by pitching baseball metaphors. “Think of a crowd at a baseball game. In ordinary chemistry, you have to deal with the whole crowd at once. … In effect, what we’ve done is eavesdrop on conversations between molecules, as if listening to a pair of people in that crowd.”
Linda Buck received the Nobel Prize for work relating to the sense of smell, which the Nobel committee noted had “long remained the most enigmatic of our senses. The basic principles for recognizing and remembering about 10,000 different odours were not understood.”
Seamus Heaney won the Nobel Prize in Literature for “poetic works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past.”
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War—founded in Boston in June of 1980 by four Harvard physicians, Bernard Lown of Harvard School of Public Health, and Herbert Abrams, Eric Chivian (pictured), and James Muller of Harvard Medical School—is a federation of national groups dedicated to mobilizing the influence of the medical profession against the threat of nuclear weapons.
Much of Amartya Sen’s work deals with development economics, which is often devoted to the welfare of the poor. He has developed new ways to predict and fight famine as well as ways to measure poverty, so that more effective social programs can be designed.