They were cited for their work in developing a new way for building molecules known as asymmetric organocatalysis.

A collage of Benjamin List and David WC MacMillanImages by Niklas Elmehed/Nobelprize.org
news Nobel Prize Wednesday, October 06, 2021 - 16:09

The Nobel Prize for chemistry has been awarded to Benjamin List and David WC MacMillan. They were cited for their work in developing a new way for building molecules known as asymmetric organocatalysis.

The winners were announced Wednesday, October 6, by Goran Hansson, secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The 2021 Nobel Prize for chemistry has in the past also honored breakthroughs that benefited the field of medicine.

It is common for several scientists who work in related fields to share the prize. Last year, the prize went to Emmanuelle Charpentier of France and Jennifer A. Doudna of the United States for developing a gene-editing tool that has revolutionized science by providing a way to alter DNA.

The prestigious award comes with a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor (over USD 1.14 million). The prize money comes from a bequest left by the prize's creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1895.

On Monday, the Nobel Committee awarded the prize in physiology or medicine to Americans David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their discoveries into how the human body perceives temperature and touch.

The Nobel Prize in physics was awarded Tuesday to three scientists whose work found order in seeming disorder, helping to explain and predict complex forces of nature, including expanding our understanding of climate change. The awardees are from Japan, Germany and Italy. Syukuro Manabe, 90, and Klaus Hasselmann, 89, were cited for their work in the physical modeling of Earth's climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming. The second half of the prize was awarded to Giorgio Parisi, 73, for the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales. 

The panel said Manabe and Hasselmann laid the foundation of our knowledge of the Earth's climate and how humanity influences it. Parisi built a deep physical and mathematical model that made it possible to understand complex systems in fields as different as mathematics, biology, neuroscience and machine learning.

Over the coming days prizes will also be awarded for outstanding work in the fields of literature, peace and economics.

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