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Posts Tagged ‘Nobel prize’

What Would God Think of the God Particle? (Part 2)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 29, 2013

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP and Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Chapman University

Deepak ChopraThe “God particle” seems to be well and truly with us. The award on October 3 of the Nobel Prize in physics that focused on the Higgs boson – the technical term for the God particle – capped a decades-long search that has cost billions of dollars. In the first post we discussed why the discovery of the elusive, fleeting Higgs boson is two-edged. It represents a triumph in human curiosity and our drive to understand the universe. At the same time, however, a huge stumbling block hasn’t been overcome. In fact, the Higgs boson may indicate that creation (whether God exists or not) is becoming ever more mysterious.

The mammoth collider at CERN Switzerland blasted the Higgs boson out of the invisible quantum field so that it could be observed, at the faintest level of measurement and then only for precious milliseconds. But this was enough to disclose the finest level of the subatomic realm so far known to be real. The problem with getting this close to the source of creation is that space, time, gravity, matter, and energy have become more and more ambiguous, as if the quantum revolution hadn’t already done enough in that department. With the probability that so-called “dark” matter and energy may account for 96 percent of the universe – along with another probability, that “dark” stuff doesn’t obey the same laws as visible mater and energy – the picture of creation is undergoing radical revision.

Stephen Hawking added to the ambiguity in his last book, The Grand Design, by siding with those who have basically given up on a Theory of Everything and are settling for a piecemeal patchwork or mosaic of theories, each pertaining to distinct regions of creation while never being synthesized into one grand design. If God exists, the deity must be smiling. For behind the high fives and hoopla over the Higgs boson, there’s a growing doubt that we are anywhere near to understanding the nature of reality. These doubts arise from two major sources.

First, there’s broad agreement that science doesn’t comprehensively describe reality to begin with. Over a century ago the pioneers of quantum theory dismantled the common-sense notion that the world “out there” consists of hard, solid, tangible things. As one of the greatest of these pioneers, Werner Heisenberg, noted, “The atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts.” No one has ever refuted this claim, and when you add into the mixture the Uncertainty Principle, which says that quantum objects can be located only by the probability that they will appear at a certain place (only after it is observed does a particle actually settle into a measurable position), the solid, tangible world is radically undermined. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malala Marches Toward the Nobel Peace Prize

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 11, 2013

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Malala Yousafzai said: 'I hope this book will reach people around the world, so they realise how difficult it is for some children to get access to education.' Photograph: Liz Cave/Getty

Malala Yousafzai said: ‘I hope this book will reach people around the world, so they realise how difficult it is for some children to get access to education.’ Photograph: Liz Cave/Getty

This Friday, the Nobel committee announces the 2013 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. As far as global opinion is concerned, the award is a 16-year-old Pakistani girl’s to lose.

Long before she became a global symbol of children’s educationMalala Yousufzai was one girl squirming under the thumb of the Pakistani Taliban, whose draconian interpretation of Islamic law saw girls’ schools closed in her hometown of Mingora in early 2009. In a frank and witty blog published on the BBC Urdu  website under a pseudonym, Malala, then 11-years-old, chafed at the new regulations that limited her freedom, stopped her from learning and kept her from seeing her friends. The pseudonym, of course, was meant to protect her identity, but it was not long before her private persona—the outspoken daughter of a prominent school administrator—meshed with her public one, and she took her demand that a girls’ right to education be recognized across Pakistan to a national audience, appearing several times on TV talk shows and eventually in an international documentary. “I wanted to speak up for my rights,” she told the BBC on Monday, when reminiscing about her early activism. “And also I didn’t want my future to be just sitting in a room and be imprisoned in my four walls and just cooking and giving birth to children. I didn’t want to see my life in that way.” Read the rest of this entry »

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What Would God Think of the God Particle? Part 1

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 10, 2013

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP and Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Chapman University

Deepak-chopraThe award of the Nobel Prize in physics generally creates a mental blur for most people, since no one can comprehend the current state of physics without training in advanced mathematics. This year was somewhat different, thanks to a nickname.

As the world learned on October 3, the British physicist Peter Higgs and the Belgian physicist Francois Englert shared the Nobel, as was widely expected in the profession. The award was given for a theory involving a missing particle in the so-called Standard Model of particle physics. The particle had come to be known as the Higgs boson when it was postulated or more popularly as “the God particle” from a 1993 book by Leon Lederman, another Nobel laureate who also served as the director of the prestigious Fermilab.

The discovery last year at CERN in Switzerland of the Higgs boson was a triumph for the Standard Model theory. Higgs and Englert, along with Robert Brout, Gerald Guralnik, C. R. Hagen, and Tom Kibble, had hypothesized the existence of a field filling the entire vacuum of space. If it hadn’t been dubbed the God particle, physicists wouldn’t be saddled with an embarrassing, catchy name. Meant initially as a joke, the enduring moniker suggests that in some way science has reached an ultimate destination. Creation has surrendered its final secret, even if there is no God. But in reality particle physics keeps moving forward, and after the celebration at finding a Higgs boson dies down, new frontiers will open up. Meanwhile, every physicist who is asked about the God particle takes pains to distance himself from the label, including Higgs himself.

Now that God has been invoked in the discussion, however, it’s worth asking if we are getting closer to understanding Him/Her/It in a way that matters beyond the arcane of quantum physics. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malala Yousafzai up for Nobel Peace Prize

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 2, 2013

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Malala YousafzaiMalala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot for promoting girls’ education, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year.

The 15-year-old was shot by a Taliban gunman at point blank range as she travelled on a bus to school on October 9, targeted for promoting girls’ education.

She has since become an internationally recognised symbol of opposition to the Taliban’s drive to deny women education, and against religious extremism in a country where women’s rights are often flouted.

“A prize to Malala would not only be timely and fitting with a line of awards to champions of human rights and democracy, but also … would set both children and education on the peace and conflict agenda,” said Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo.

Others known to have been nominated are human rights activists whose names have been mentioned in previous years, including Belarussian human rights activist Ales Belyatski – currently behind bars – and Russia’s Lyudmila Alexeyeva.

Belarus, which former US President George W. Bush’s administration had branded as the “the last dictatorship in Europe”, is governed by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has cracked down even further on opponents of late, rights groups charge. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nobel Prize: A tale of ignoble peace laureates

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 11, 2012

One man introduced indefinite detention and expanded the deadly global drone war. Another was the architect of the deliberate mass killing of civilian populations in Indochina. What do they have in common? Both are Nobel Peace laureates.

Gandhi never got one. Al Gore did. In one of the stranger ironies befitting of both Kafka and Orwell, sometimes the makers of permanent war are awarded for bringing temporary peace. Sometimes they don’t even get that far.

With the winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize set to be announced in Oslo, Norway on Friday, the shadow of Barack Obama still looms large. In 2009, the committee awarded the current US president “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Nominations for the award are due by February 1, meaning Obama had served as America’s executive for less than two weeks when the Norwegian Nobel Committee selected him. Perhaps it was wishful thinking.

Since then, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law, making it legal to indefinitely detain US citizens. There are also the deadly drone wars in Yemen and Pakistan, the war waged in Libya, the Afghan surge and a secret “kill list” revealed this year by The New York Times, which grants a select few American officials the option to mark perceived national security threats – foreign citizens or otherwise – for assassination. Ironic, yes, but they never could have known.  Read the rest of this entry »

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China’s Nobel Laureate Mo Yan Defends Censorship

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 7, 2012

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JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP / GETTY IMAGES The 2012 Nobel Literature Prize laureate, Mo Yan of China gestures during a press conference of the 2012 Nobel Literature Prize laureate on Dec. 6, 2012 in Stockholm.

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP / GETTY IMAGES
The 2012 Nobel Literature Prize laureate, Mo Yan of China gestures during a press conference of the 2012 Nobel Literature Prize laureate on Dec. 6, 2012 in Stockholm.

The pen name of Mo Yan, the Chinese writer who will be awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature on Monday, means “don’t speak.” He says he chose  it as a reminder not to say things that would get him into trouble. At a press conference in Stockholm he followed his own advice carefully, describing  China’s censorship as sometimes necessary, and declining to repeat earlier comments in support of Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

“I’ve never given any compliments or praised the system of censorship but I also believe that in every country of the world, censorship exists,” Mo Yan said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “The only difference is in the degree and way of censorship. Without censorship, then any person could on television or online vilify others. This should not be allowed in any country. As long as it is not contrary to the true facts, it should not be censored. Any disinformation, vilification, rumors or insults should be censored.”

(MORE: Chinese Novelist Mo Yan Receives Nobel Prize. But Is He Politically Correct?)

The author of bawdy tales of life in rural China, often centered around his hometown of Gaomi in eastern Shandong province, Mo Yan has addressed sensitive topics of official corruption and China’s one-child policy while working within China’s system of censorship. In a 2010 interview with TIME he said he thought such restrictions could be an advantage, as they force writers to “conform to the aesthetics of literature.” While Mo Yan’s Nobel has been officially celebrated in China, his firmly entrenched position inside China’s Communist Party-controlled system has triggered criticism. Herta Mueller, the Romanian-born 2009 Nobel Literature prize laureate, called his win “a catastrophe.” Others have defended Mo Yan, saying it is unreasonable to expect every important Chinese writer to be a dissident, a requirement that isn’t applied to Western authors. After the prize was announced in October, Tang Xiaobing, a professor of comparative literature at the University of Michigan, described Mo Yan as “a writer who is widely read and respected, whose work does not get attention simply because it is claimed to be dissident or oppositional.” Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Scientists understand only 4% of universe’

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 30, 2012

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India and China: Friend, enemy, rival, investor

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 3, 2012

How can India make its economic relations with China less lopsided?

DEALINGS between India and China are stunted in many ways. Rich cultural links once existed long ago, from the study of eclipses to Buddhist chanting, but hardly anyone remembers that today, laments Amartya Sen, a Nobel-prize-winning economist. After a love-in during the 1950s, China thumped India in a border war in 1962, and the two have continued to growl over their high-altitude frontier since. Indians envy China’s economic rise, but console themselves by pointing out that it is no democracy. Aside from stiff displays of fraternity at summits, most recently the G20 bash in Mexico on June 18th-19th, China seems not to think much about India at all. Investment flows are negligible. There are still no direct flights between Beijing or Shanghai and Mumbai, India’s commercial hub.

And yet a huge shift has taken place in the make-up of Indian trade. When India began to liberalise its economy in 1991, the West still dominated the world economy, and it was to the West that India turned for trade. China’s rise has now changed everything—for India, too. China is now its third-largest trading partner in goods, and the biggest if you include Hong Kong. For China’s East Asian neighbours a dominant trade with China is a given, but Indians are still trying to digest the development. Read the rest of this entry »

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Only woman to get Nobel Prize for economics dies

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 13, 2012

[Mourning the passing away of Prof. Elinor Ostrum, a Nobel laureate in economics, who had done important research in local management of irrigation system in Nepal in early nineties. Her research finding that farmers were better manager than the government are among the ideas that have shaped view on the model of federalism for Nepal. ]

RICK CALLAHAN | AP

From left to right: Crown Princess Victoria, Mrs Dolores Williamson, Laureate Oliver E. Williamson, Her Majesty Queen Silvia, His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Laureate Elinor Ostrom, Prince Carl Philip, and Princess Madeleine at the Nobel Banquet. Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2009 Photo: Orasisfoto

From left to right: Crown Princess Victoria, Mrs Dolores Williamson, Laureate Oliver E. Williamson, Her Majesty Queen Silvia, His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Laureate Elinor Ostrom, Prince Carl Philip, and Princess Madeleine at the Nobel Banquet.
Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2009
Photo: Orasisfoto

INDIANAPOLIS — Elinor Ostrom, an Indiana University political scientist who is the only woman to have been awarded a Nobel Prize in economics, died Tuesday. She was 78.

Ostrom, who won a share of the 2009 prize for her research into how people overcome selfish interests to successfully manage natural resources, died of pancreatic cancer at IU Health Bloomington Hospital, said Michael McGinnis, a friend and colleague who was at her bedside when she died.

Ostrom’s husband, Vincent Ostrom, who is 93 years old and suffers from dementia, was brought to her room after she passed away, McGinnis said

“He was able to say goodbye to her and see that she was gone. I think he understood. It was very touching,” McGinnis said.

Ostrom, who along with her husband founded IU’s Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis in 1973, remained active in her research even after learning she had cancer late last year, said McGinnis, the workshop’s current director. He said she had traveled to Mexico this spring only a couple of weeks before her final hospitalization. Read the rest of this entry »

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Grass stained: Israel slams Nobel Prize-winner over ‘anti-nuke’ poem

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 6, 2012

Guenter Grass (AFP Photo / John Macdougall)

Guenter Grass (AFP Photo / John Macdougall)

The Israeli government has slammed a poem by prominent German writer and Nobel Prize-winner Gunter Grass criticizing Israel’s stance on nuclear armament. The country labels a comparison Grass made of Israel to Iran “shameful”.

In his lyrical warning What Must be Said, published on Wednesday in the German Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, Grass claimed it is not Iran, but “Israel’s atomic power [which] endangers an already fragile world peace,” as its nuclear program was developed without any supervision.

Grass called upon Germany to stop supplying Israel with submarines because “we [Germans] may be providing material for a crime that is foreseeable.”

In response, the Israeli Government insisted the country has never threatened any country’s security, as opposed to Iran. Read the rest of this entry »

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Albert Einstein Short Biography

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 6, 2012

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Nobel Peace Prize 2012: Bradley Manning, Bill Clinton Among Nominees For 2012 Prize

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 27, 2012

OSLO, Norway — The Nobel Peace Prize jury has received 231 nominations for this year’s award, a spokesman said, with publicly disclosed candidates including a former Ukrainian prime minister and the U.S. soldier accused of leaking classified material to WikiLeaks.

The secretive committee doesn’t reveal who has been nominated, but those with nomination rights sometimes announce their picks.

Names put forward this year include Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private charged with the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history, Russian human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina and former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Others believed to have been nominated include former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Being nominated doesn’t say anything about a candidate’s chances. A wide range of submissions come in every year from lawmakers, university professors and others with nomination rights, but the decision rests solely with a five-member panel appointed by Norway’s parliament.

This year’s list of candidates is a mix of repeat nominations and new names, the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s nonvoting secretary Geir Lundestad told The Associated Press. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Secret of Secrets

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 15, 2012

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Women dominate 2011 Nobel Peace Prize (Interview with winners)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 10, 2011

The Nobel Peace Prize 2011 was awarded jointly to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”.

  Tawakkol Karman

Tawakkol Karman

Residence at the time of the award: Yemen

Prize motivation: “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”

Karman is a Yemeni journalist, politician and senior member of Al-Islah political party, and human rights activist who heads the group “Women Journalists Without Chains,” which she co-founded in 2005. She gained prominence in her country after 2005 in her roles as a Yemeni journalist and an advocate for a mobile phone news service denied a license in 2007, after which she led protests for press freedom. She organized weekly protests after May 2007 expanding the issues for reform. She redirected the Yemini protests to support the “Jasmine Revolution,” as she calls the Arab Spring, after the Tunisian people overthrew the government of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. She has been a vocal opponent who has called for the end of President’s Ali Abdullah Saleh regime.

Tawakel Karman was born on 7 February 1979 in MekhlafTa’izz province, Yemen. She grew up near Taiz, which is the third largest city in Yemen and is described as a place of learning in a conservative country. She is the daughter of Abdel Salam Karman, a lawyer and politician, who once served and later resigned as Legal Affairs Minister in Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government. She is the sister of Tariq Karman, who is a poet, and Safa Karman, who works for Al-Jazeera. She is married to Mohammed al-Nahmi and is the mother of three children.

Karman earned an undergraduate degree in commerce from the University of Science and Technology, Sana’a and a graduate degree in political science from the University of Sana’a.

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UK: £1million prize for groundbreaking engineering advances launched

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 18, 2011

A £1 million prize is to be awarded for groundbreaking advances in engineering, it was announced today.

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering will be awarded every two years.

Speaking at its launch, Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK did not do enough to recognise engineering.

“In so many ways that is absurd because this is the country that gave birth to the industrial revolution,” he said.

In a rare show of cross-party unity, Mr Cameron was joined by Labour leader Ed Miliband and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at the Science Museum event.

David Cameron launches the £1million Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering  (Clip)

 Mr Cameron said the prize, which will first be awarded in December 2013 and is open to all nationalities, would raise the status of engineering in the UK.

“We are here because we believe in the inventiveness and the genius of the British people.

“We want young people leaving school today to see engineering as the exciting, dynamic profession that it is.

“In many ways engineers are the real revolutionaries, the ones who take society forward.”

The Royal Academy of Engineering will deliver the accolade, which will be overseen by a charitable trust headed by former BP chief executive Lord Browne.

It is hoped the £1 million award, the world’s richest for engineering, will rival the status of the Nobel prizes. Read the rest of this entry »

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