Premios Nobel

The Swedish Academy in Stockholm, Sweden.CreditJonathan Nackstrand/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

We all love a prize, and a scandal, and a chance to shake our heads when the great and good fall into disgrace. So for the past few weeks, the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize for Literature, has offered excellent entertainment.

Instead of wondering whether this year’s prize would finally go to Philip Roth, we instead had the excitement of asking whether it would be awarded at all. On Friday, we got the answer: The Academy will postpone the 2018 prize until next year. The real comedy, however, is that it has taken accusations of sexual abuse — directed not at a member of the academy, but at the husband of a member — to call the prize into question.…  Seguir leyendo »

La premio Nobel de la Paz Malala Yousafzai. Suzanne Plunkett (REUTERS)

Tenía 17 años, la persona más joven que subía a recoger un Premio Nobel, aupada en sus altos tacones, gracias a los cuales consiguió medir cinco pies y dos pulgadas. Ni un murmullo en el auditorio al escuchar la decidida voz de Malala, la niña paquistaní a quien los talibanes habían descerrajado el cráneo por su empecinamiento en querer estudiar. Escuchándola, entre el ilustre público, también estaban Shazia y Kainat Riaz, disparadas junto a ella en el valle de Swat. Y Kainat Somro, otra amiga del alma cuyo hermano fue asesinado por los terroristas. “Sobrevivimos. Y desde aquel día nuestras voces no han hecho más que crecer”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Half a century after the Cuban missile crisis brought the world to the brink of destruction, we again find ourselves at a time of deeply disturbing nuclear threats and dangers of nuclear war.

These threats are considered by most experts – such as the 15 Nobel laureates among the custodians of the Doomsday Clock – to be as high as they have ever been.

It seems that the superpowers of the world have not taken their history lessons as seriously as many of us had hoped they would. Which is why it is heartening that the majority of the world, 122 states, have stepped up and shown leadership.…  Seguir leyendo »

En la novela Exilios y Odiseas: la historia secreta de Severo Ochoa, analizo dos aspectos polémicos del Premio Nobel: los errores en la selección de los candidatos y el sexismo. La historia de la ciencia podría ser la historia del conocimiento y del intelecto como productor y consumidor de ciencia, y esa historia podríamos relatarla sin necesidad de mencionar un solo científico. Una afirmación exagerada, pero en los tiempos de Severo Ochoa el progreso se narró casi sin nombrar científicas, que fueron víctimas del efecto Matilda. Como recordamos, este fenómeno, descrito por Rossiter, consiste en la falta de reconocimiento del trabajo científico de las mujeres, y el desvío de los créditos hacia sus colegas varones.…  Seguir leyendo »

La décision est tombée lundi 9 octobre, le prix de la Banque de Suède en sciences économiques en mémoire d’Alfred Nobel (nommé plus couramment prix Nobel d’économie) a été attribué à l’économiste Richard Thaler, rattaché à l’université de Chicago. Cette distinction vient consacrer ses travaux en économie expérimentale où il avait démontré l’existence de biais dans la décision des agents, venant alors rendre caduque l’idée que tout individu serait naturellement un Homo economicus, purement rationnel.

Il écrivait ainsi en 2008 dans son ouvrage Nudge : « Les économistes pensent que les gens ont des cerveaux comme des supercalculateurs qui peuvent tout résoudre, or les esprits humains ressemblent plus à de vieux Mac avec des vitesses de traitement lentes et enclins à des crashs fréquents.…  Seguir leyendo »

El ganador de este año del Premio en Ciencias Económicas en Memoria de Alfred Nobel, Richard Thaler, de la Universidad de Chicago, es una elección controvertida. Thaler dedicó su vida al estudio de la economía conductual (y su subcampo, las finanzas conductuales), esto es, la economía (y las finanzas) con una perspectiva psicológica. Pero la idea misma de que la investigación psicológica pueda tener cabida en la economía repele a algunos miembros de la profesión desde hace años.

No es mi caso. Me parece maravilloso que la Fundación Nobel haya elegido a Thaler. El Nobel de economía ya se otorgó a muchos economistas a los que puede clasificarse como conductuales, entre ellos George Akerlof, Robert Fogel, Daniel Kahneman, Elinor Ostrom y yo mismo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dos enormes interferómetros en Washington y Luisiana (EE UU) detectaron el pasado 14 de septiembre de 2015, por primera vez en la historia, la emisión de ondas gravitacionales generadas en los últimos instantes de la fusión de dos agujeros negros de unas 30 masas solares cada uno, abriendo una nueva era de la astronomía y la cosmología.

El 11 de febrero de 2016 pudimos seguir en directo la rueda de prensa que los fundadores del experimento, Reiner Weiss, Ronald Drever y Kip Thorne, dieron en Washington, en la sede de la National Science Foundation estadounidense, describiendo la detección de la señal inequívoca, por lo que los investigadores de la colaboración LIGO sabían que estaban ante un hito de la historia de la ciencia.…  Seguir leyendo »

A billion years ago (give or take), in a galaxy far, far away, two black holes concluded a cosmic pas de deux. After orbiting each other more and more closely, their mutual gravity tugging each to the other, they finally collided and merged into one. Their collision released enormous energy — equivalent to about three times the mass of our sun. The black holes’ inspiral, collision and merger roiled the surrounding space-time, sending gravitational waves streaming out in every direction at the speed of light.

By the time those waves reached earth, early in the morning of Sept. 14, 2015, the once-cosmic roar had attenuated to a barely perceptible whimper.…  Seguir leyendo »

Here’s a suggestion for the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, which opens its nominating season next month: Look to the three young men who earlier today became Hong Kong’s first prisoners of conscience.

In 2014, the courageous trio helped lead what become known as the Umbrella Movement — an enormous political protest defending Hong Kong’s freedoms from an increasingly aggressive Beijing. Like Andrei Sakharov, Vaclav Havel, Aung San Suu Kyi and so many dissidents that came before them, the men were hit with a bogus charge (“unlawful assembly”), were found guilty and served out their punishments last year.

But today, Hong Kong’s Department of Justice decided that those penalties were too lenient.…  Seguir leyendo »

What does the Communist Party’s handling of the case of Liu Xiaobo tell us about its approach to dissidents and freedom of speech in the Xi era?

What it tells us is the party is tightening control much more than before. The Liu Xiaobo case shows that the party is not comfortable with people asking for the constitution of the People’s Republic of China to be enforced. Charter 08, for which Liu Xiaobo was jailed, ultimately amounts to asking for the rights of Chinese citizens, as articulated in the constitution, to be fully implemented. That resulted in Liu Xiaobo being incarcerated.…  Seguir leyendo »

La relativamente súbita muerte (a los 61 años) de Liu Xiaobo, el disidente y Premio Nobel de la Paz chino encarcelado, supone una gran pérdida. También dejó algo bien claro: que la dirigencia del Partido Comunista de China (PCC) está decidida a defender por los medios que sea y a cualquier costo su monopolio político.

Liu, un ex crítico literario y conocido promotor de los derechos humanos y la resistencia no violenta, pasó los últimos ocho años de vida tras las rejas, bajo acusaciones de “subversión” inventadas. Su verdadero delito fue pedir democracia en China. Incluso antes de ser encarcelado, ya era víctima de acoso y vigilancia policial todo el tiempo.…  Seguir leyendo »

For gentlemen of purpose and men of benevolence, while it is inconceivable that they should seek to stay alive at the expense of benevolence, it may happen that they have to accept death in order to have benevolence accomplished.

—Confucius, Analects

In 1898, some of China’s most brilliant minds allied themselves with the Emperor Guangxu, a young ruler who was trying to assert himself by forcing through reforms to open up China’s political, economic, and educational systems. But opponents quickly struck back, deposing the emperor and causing his advisors to flee for their lives.

One, however, stayed put. He was Tan Sitong, a young scholar from a far-off corner of the empire.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the late 1960s Mao Zedong, China’s Great Helmsman, encouraged children and adolescents to confront their teachers and parents, root out “cow ghosts and snake spirits,” and otherwise “make revolution.” In practice, this meant closing China’s schools. In the decades since, many have decried a generation’s loss of education.

Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was sentenced to eleven years for “inciting subversion” of China’s government, and who died of liver cancer on Thursday, illustrates a different pattern. Liu, born in 1955, was eleven when the schools closed, but he read books anyway, wherever he could find them.…  Seguir leyendo »

As we look back on 2016, and perhaps fret about 2017, we can take some solace in the remarkable things we know and continue to learn about the universe. In addition to a better understanding of the 5 percent of matter that has been well studied and understood, scientists are unlocking mysteries about the rest — 25 percent of it dark matter, and the remaining 70 percent dark energy.

Dark matter interacts gravitationally the way that ordinary matter does — clumping into galaxies and galaxy clusters, for example — but we call it “dark” because it doesn’t interact, in any perceptible way, with light.…  Seguir leyendo »

When I heard that Bob Dylan had received the Nobel Prize for literature, I was mildly surprised. He writes music, popular music. As did George Gershwin and Irving Berlin, both of whom almost certainly wrote better music. I have nothing against Mr. Dylan’s music, except that it was written by a scruffy young man who has remained a scruffy young man all his life. At least, that is an achievement. As the years accumulate around him, Mr. Dylan has remained a scruffy young man, right down to his recent achievement, bewildering the Nobel Committee, whose members still do not know what Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’opinion publique a célébré en grande pompe l’attribution surprise du prix Nobel au barde Bob Dylan, saluant ainsi le fait que la littérature ne se limite pas aux romans, essais ou poèmes au sens classique des termes.

Il y a de quoi se réjouir que tous les genres littéraires soient pris en compte, dans l’évaluation à haute valeur symbolique des jurés de la récompense suédoise. Et pourquoi pas, une fois également, me disais-je à cette occasion, le Nobel à une mystique? On peut toujours rêver. J’y pensais, dimanche 16 octobre 2016, quand le pape François déclarait sept nouveaux saints sur la Place Saint-Pierre à Rome, en une splendide liturgie fréquentée par des centaines de milliers de fidèles, au cœur de l’année du Jubilé de la miséricorde.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the summer of 1964, Bob Dylan released his fourth album, “Another Side of Bob Dylan,” which includes the track “It Ain’t Me Babe.” “Go ’way from my window/Leave at your own chosen speed,” it begins. “I’m not the one you want, babe/I’m not the one you need.”

That fall, the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre played a variation on the same tune in a public statement explaining why, despite having been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, he would not accept it. “The writer,” he insisted, must “refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if this occurs under the most honorable circumstances.” Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize for literature is something even he could not have prophesied with his pen when we were young musicians together in Greenwich Village. I was astonished at the news, overjoyed. A sense of validation swept over me. It seems we built a long-lasting platform of sorts, a fortress of folk music, that can still carry the strength of our convictions.

Not everyone agrees with my delight about Dylan’s prize, and he has barely acknowledged it. But I am buoyed that his messages might inspire us again to act on those convictions.

The night Dylan introduced himself to me at Gerdes Folk City, I was struck by how pale and thin he was, looking as if he just stepped out of the pages of a Charles Dickens novel.…  Seguir leyendo »

Every year I root for Ngugi wa Thiong’o to win the Nobel Prize for literature.

The Kenyan writer has been a favorite to win for years. This year, according to gambling site Ladbrokes, the odds were 4-to-1 in Ngugi’s favor, with Haruki Murakami second at 7-to-1, and Don DeLillo at 12-to-1. Had Murakami or DeLillo won, I would have been disappointed. Ngugi’s novel “Wizard of the Crow” was a 700-page masterpiece that seemed to invent a genre of its own, in between satire and magical realism, yet it had far fewer readers outside of Africa than “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle“ or “Underworld,” though it is a work of equivalent stature.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por lo que él manifiesta y, más aún, por su trayectoria, se diría que Bob Dylan cree que lo genuinamente suyo es componer e interpretar canciones sobre un escenario itinerante. Lo avalan décadas de más de cien conciertos al año por todo el mundo. En cambio, parece que los estudios de grabación le resultan lugares inhóspitos, en los que habría procurado estar el tiempo estrictamente necesario para grabar medio millar de canciones, suyas, la mayor parte, pero también ajenas, repartidas en una cincuentena de álbumes.

Esta faceta creativa e interpretativa, inseparable de una obsesión casi patológica por el conocimiento exhaustivo de la música norteamericana, la popular y la no tan popular, hace que el Premio Nobel de Literatura que acaba de recibir le suponga a Dylan, en cierto sentido, una contrariedad.…  Seguir leyendo »