What to Read on the Nobel Prizes #88

Deepnews Digest #88

What to Read on the Nobel Prizes

Editor: Christopher Brennan
With so much focus on what is going wrong in the world, it can be easy to lose sight of the people trying to make things better, whether through medicine, science, literature or efforts at peace. This week five of the six Nobel Prizes were awarded, and our Digest pulled in in-depth articles on the winners, their work and the awards themselves. All gathered with the Deepnews Scoring Model.
Editor’s note
As always, we encourage you to share articles you find informative on social media and tag us on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. If you want more conversation about how Deepnews works and the use of algorithms in news, you can also follow the blog on our website, which we update on Wednesdays.
Published every Thursday


The CRISPR story: How basic research discovery changed science

When Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier embarked on the project that would change science and medicine in incalculable ways, their intentions were much more muted. Theirs was a basic research inquiry into bacterial immune systems, not an attempt to develop a new tool to manipulate the genetic code.

Read more


Aid cuts by Trump and some US allies are costing lives in Yemen

Abs, Yemen — The doctors and nurses at the malnutrition ward in Abs Hospital are used to scrambling — there is rarely enough time in the day to see the number of emaciated children that come in. But things have never been quite this bad.

Read more

Editor’s Note:

While the press conference for the Nobel Peace Prize acknowledged that the World Food Program was a fairly safe choice, that does not mean that the awardee has not been at the center of ongoing stories. Here a piece on Yemen looks at the effects of a lack of funding. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

New York Times

‘I Was Unprepared’: Louise Glück on Poetry, Aging and a Surprise Nobel Prize

“It seemed to be extremely unlikely that I would ever have this particular event to deal with in my life.”

Read more

Popular Mechanics

Three Scientists Shaped How We Think About Black Holes. Now They Have a Nobel Prize.

Penrose solidified the mathematical understanding of black holes — proving Einstein was, in fact, correct — while Genzel and Ghez are credited with discovering Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

Read more

Washington University in St Louis

Nobel awarded to Charles Rice for hepatitis C discoveries at School of Medicine

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded Monday, Oct. 5, to three scientists for groundbreaking research that led to the discovery of the hepatitis C virus, an insidious and deadly blood-borne virus. One of those scientists — virologist Charles M. Rice — conducted his seminal work while on the faculty of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis from 1986 to 2001. Rice, now at Rockefeller University in New York City, was awarded the prize along with Harvey J. Alter, MD, of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Michael Houghton, of the University of Alberta in Canada.

Read more

C Tech

Nobel Prize for CRISPR inventors re-sparks the debate on science’s ethical boundaries

The purported facility of the DNA-editing process raises numerous questions and concerns over the control and regulation of the technology

Read more

The Conversation

Want to solve society’s most urgent problems? Cash prizes can spur breakthroughs

Innovation is a critical part of tackling problems in areas as diverse as transportation, housing, public health and energy. But the scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs who might generate creative solutions often investigate issues or pursue economic opportunities in other less urgent fields. Incentives for science and innovation try to steer efforts toward the most pressing societal problems.

Read more

Times of India

Bong connection: How Raychaudhuri Equation took Penrose to physics Nobel

KOLKATA: The world may be celebrating British physicist Roger Penrose’s Nobel Prize, but only a handful know that his journey into the heart of one of astrophysics’ greatest mysteries — Black Holes — had a strong Kolkata connect.

Read more

Editor’s Note:

Scientists often say that they are standing on the shoulders of giants. With the Nobel for physics going to the study of black holes, here TOI discusses the Raychaudhuri Equation, its connection to Kolkata and the work of Roger Penrose. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

Associated Press

Nobel Prizes and COVID-19: Slow, basic science may pay off

While the world wants flashy quick fixes for everything, especially massive threats like the coronavirus and global warming, next week’s Nobel Prizes remind us that in science, slow and steady pays off.

Read more

Deutsche Welle

2020 ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ winners

Each year the Right Livelihood Award Foundation in Stockholm honors people who toiled to improve our world. From a jailed lawyer in Iran to an activist in Belarus, we profile 2020’s “Alternative Nobel Prizes.”

Read more

Agence France Presse

Wars, rows, and scandals: When the Nobels didn’t go according to plan

Wars, jailed laureates and diplomatic rows have occasionally put the brakes on the Nobel prizes through the years. This time it is the coronavirus pandemic that has thwarted plans, and while prize announcements will go ahead next week, December festivities will be scaled back.

Read more


Two Years Ago He Won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now, He’s Under Threat for Standing Up for Victims of Sexual Violence

The doctor, a gynaecologist celebrated for his work with survivors of sexual assault in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Panzi Hospital, was awarded the Nobel in 2018 along with Yazidi activist Nadia Murad for their campaigns against rape in warfare. But Mukwege’s continuing calls for justice for the victims of Congo’s brutal ongoing conflict have since earned him threats against his life and his hospital.

Read more

LA Times

U.N.’s World Food Program is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

The Norwegian Nobel Institute paid tribute to the organization “for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.”

Read more

The Conversation

Nobel Prize for chemistry honors exquisitely precise gene-editing technique, CRISPR – a gene engineer explains how it works

Researchers have been able to manipulate large chunks of genetic code for almost 50 years. But it is only within the past decade that they have been able to do it with exquisite precision – adding, deleting and substituting single units of the genetic code just as an editor can manipulate a single letter in a document. This newfound ability is called gene editing, the tool is called CRISPR, and it’s being used worldwide to engineer plants and livestock and treat disease in people.

Read more

The Hindu

Nobel nomination is recognition for Afghan women fighting to be heard: Fawzia Koofi

Afghanistan’s first woman Deputy Speaker in Parliament Fawzia Koofi talks about being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, negotiating with the Taliban in Doha, and the most recent attack she faced

Read more

Inside Science

How Nobel-Winning Research is Helping Battle Covid-19

Today’s Covid-19 researchers didn’t start from scratch. Their rapid progress in understanding a disease that was unknown one year ago rests on over a century’s worth of discoveries about viruses and the immune system.

Read more

Editor’s Note:

Speaking of building off of past research, this piece digs into how breakthroughs can contribute to the most pressing current scientific effort, the search for a vaccine. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

Elemental (Medium)

The Nobel Prize Is a Reminder of Hepatitis C’s Dark History

Yesterday, three scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of the hepatitis C virus. The discovery led to a curative treatment for the widespread, fatal virus, which infects somewhere between 71 million and 170 million people worldwide. This chronic disease is often silent for many years, but eventually it may cause cirrhosis, skin problems, blood disorders, and weight loss. In its most severe stages, hepatitis C can lead to liver damage, liver cancer, and liver failure. While a hepatitis C diagnosis today is not necessarily a death sentence, the virus has left a centuries-long trail of destruction. Tracing the history of this virus reveals some of the most disconcerting of human behaviors, and a lesson in ways in which poverty and oppression shape global health.

Read more

Naked Capitalism

Latest Nobel Prize in Chemistry Demonstrates How the US Patent Office Screws Inventors

Congratulations to University of California Professors Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier for winning the Novel Prize for the invention of CRISPR gene-editing technology. For those not in the know, CRISPR works as a word processor for DNA. Don’t like a gene where it is? Cut it out. Write in a new one. Even copy and paste.

Read more

The Intercept

Louise Glück Should Refuse the Nobel Prize for Literature. Here’s Why.

The Swedish Academy, which selects the Nobel winner, is a corrupt institution that has tolerated genocide denial and sexual assault.

Read more

The Conversation

2020 Nobel Prize in physics awarded for work on black holes – an astrophysicist explains the trailblazing discoveries

Black holes are perhaps the most mysterious objects in nature. They warp space and time in extreme ways and contain a mathematical impossibility, a singularity – an infinitely hot and dense object within. But if black holes exist and are truly black, how exactly would we ever be able to make an observation?

Read more