Who Won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics and What Did They Discover?

In summary: This is a big deal. I knew Penrose had been awarded one for his work on black holes, but I didn't realize it was this year. This is so exciting!
  • #36
I like his (semi-) popular book, Road to Reality.
 
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  • #37
vanhees71 said:
I like his (semi-) popular book, Road to Reality.

I never got the chance to read his "Spinors and Twistors" classic. Does anybody know what twistors are and what they useful for?
 
  • #38
Amrator said:
I remember watching his interview with Joe Rogan and being mind-blown when he used Escher's Circle Limits to elucidate hyperbolic geometry. Does anyone where I can find a more technical explanation of what he was talking about starting at 1:01:00?
I think he might be talking about his ideas put forth in one of his latest books titled Cycles of Time where he also discusses a 'conformal' view of the universe as he does in this interview.

https://cds.cern.ch/record/1381231/files/9780099505945_TOC.pdf

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/129417/cycles-of-time-by-roger-penrose/
 
  • #40
robphy said:

To remove the guy on the left, paste this into the browsers developer console, lol.

JavaScript:
$(".s9e-miniplayer-inactive").each(function() {
    $(this).append( "<div style='position: absolute; top: 25%; left: 0px;height : 50%; width : 50%;background-color:rgb(37,37,37); z-index:10'></div>" );
});
 
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  • #41
Do you think Hawking would have been a co recipient with Penrose for his own work with black holes if he were still alive?
 
  • #42
Thecla said:
Do you think Hawking would have been a co recipient with Penrose for his own work with black holes if he were still alive?

This thought has crossed my mind.
I'm not sure how things would have played out.
Penrose (in the interview above) suggests that if Hawking radiation were detected, Hawking would have won one earlier. I haven't followed the history closely but I think Hawking applied Penrose's methods (used for black holes) to the whole universe (i.e. cosmology).

With a three-person limit, who among the three awardees would be excluded?
(There is also the possibility that only the astronomers get the award.)
 
  • #43
robphy said:
This thought has crossed my mind.
I'm not sure how things would have played out.
Penrose (in the interview above) suggests that if Hawking radiation were detected, Hawking would have won one earlier. I haven't followed the history closely but I think Hawking applied Penrose's methods (used for black holes) to the whole universe (i.e. cosmology).

With a three-person limit, who among the three awardees would be excluded?
(There is also the possibility that only the astronomers get the award.)
If you are willing to wait about 50 years you can see the records of nominations of the years Hawking would have likely been nominated if he had been. Now you can see all the nominees and nominators up to 1966 here;

https://www.nobelprize.org/nomination/archive/
 
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  • #44
bob012345 said:
If you are willing to wait about 50 years you can see the records of nominations of the years Hawking would have likely been nominated if he had been. Now you can see all the nominees and nominators up to 1966 here;

https://www.nobelprize.org/nomination/archive/
Interesting... although the following is off-topic from this year's prizes

In 1957, three of many nominees ( https://www.nobelprize.org/nomination/archive/list.php?prize=1&year=1957 ) were
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar ( 1910-1995 ), Tsung-Dao Lee ( 1926- ), Chen Ning Yang ( 1922- )... all first-time nominees.

There was a famous story of these three
http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/99/990715.chandra-facts.shtml
(bolding mine)
Chandra’s commitment to teaching was legendary. In the 1940s, he drove 200 miles round trip each week from Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisc., to the University to teach a class on stellar atmospheres. One day he insisted on driving from Yerkes to teach the class despite a heavy snowstorm. Chandra ended up teaching a class of only two that day. The two students––Tsung Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang––won the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics, obtaining the distinction even before their professor.
According to the database, Chandrasekhar was nominated in 1957 and 1962 [and maybe others not available yet] and finally won in 1983.

Interestingly, from a quick scan of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nobel_laureates_in_Physics
it appears that all of the physics laureates from the 1960 have passed away. Gell-Mann (1969 prize) passed away in 2019. However, Lee and Yang (who were in their 30s when they won the 1957 prize) are still living.

Lee and Yang won in 1957 for the theory of Parity Violation [published in 1956], which was shown experimentally by
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chien-Shiung_Wu in 1956.
Wu (1912-1997) was nominated in 1958, 1959, 1960, 1964, 1965 [and maybe more]
https://www.nobelprize.org/nomination/archive/show_people.php?id=10859 but she never won.
An interesting article on Wu at https://physicsworld.com/a/credit-where-credits-due/
 
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  • #45
robphy said:
Interesting... although the following is off-topic from this year's prizes

In 1957, three of many nominees ( https://www.nobelprize.org/nomination/archive/list.php?prize=1&year=1957 ) were
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar ( 1910-1995 ), Tsung-Dao Lee ( 1926- ), Chen Ning Yang ( 1922- )... all first-time nominees.

There was a famous story of these three
http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/99/990715.chandra-facts.shtml
(bolding mine)

According to the database, Chandrasekhar was nominated in 1957 and 1962 [and maybe others not available yet] and finally won in 1983.

Interestingly, from a quick scan of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nobel_laureates_in_Physics
it appears that all of the physics laureates from the 1960 have passed away. Gell-Mann (1969 prize) passed away in 2019. However, Lee and Yang (who were in their 30s when they won the 1957 prize) are still living.

Lee and Yang won in 1957 for the theory of Parity Violation [published in 1956], which was shown experimentally by
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chien-Shiung_Wu in 1956.
Wu (1912-1997) was nominated in 1958, 1959, 1960, 1964, 1965 [and maybe more]
https://www.nobelprize.org/nomination/archive/show_people.php?id=10859 but she never won.
An interesting article on Wu at https://physicsworld.com/a/credit-where-credits-due/
Interestingly (to me at least) is I found a little popular book by Yang called 'Elementary Particles' from 1962 and it has an Escher drawing on the cover used to illustrate relevant symmetries in physics. So, C.N. Yang ties to M.C. Escher which ties to Penrose which ties to the topic. Well, almost...

https://www.abebooks.com/first-edit...ort-History-Discoveries-Atomic/17986105339/bd
 
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  • #46
dextercioby said:
I never got the chance to read his "Spinors and Twistors" classic. Does anybody know what twistors are and what they useful for?
Twistors are twisted lines in a complex projective space which directly result from a unique and quite conventional geometric mapping from spacetime points of the worldlines of lightrays. In other words, doing physics using twistors in twistor space essentially is just a mathematical reformulation of standard physics, in the same vein of Hamiltonian mechanics just being a mathematical reformulation of Newtonian mechanics using different mathematical tools.

The main drive behind the idea however is that the twistor space point of view, if taken as more fundamental than the spacetime view, might automatically suggest a unique unification of GR with QT, but this has not yet been fully achieved yet; bluntly put, this has been achieved for linearized GR, but the full nonlinear Einstein theory has not yet been fully recovered in the twistor framework. This has been an unsolved problem for over 50 years now which has halted twistor theory to actually develop into a new physical theory; on the other hand, twistor theory as a mathematical theory/method is well established, especially in the theory of differential equations.

Quite recently however there has been significant progress in the development on the physics side of twistor theory. This happened following a suggestion by Atiyah to Penrose that a natural way to overcome the longstanding issue with recovering nonlinear Einstein theory is by shifting the focus within the theory away from complex projective twistor space onto the non-commutative twistor quantum algebra and then to utilize non-commutative geometry to recover a new space.

In this manner, one should be able to recover the fully nonlinear Einstein theory in a novel kind of twistor space directly from the twistor algebra which inherently has cohomological wave functions and so automatically solve the long-standing problem of unifying QM with GR in a mathematically unique way; suffice to say, actually carrying this out to full completion requires Fields Medal level skill.
 
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  • #47
bob012345 said:
So, C.N. Yang ties to M.C. Escher which ties to Penrose which ties to the topic. Well, almost...
At least not repeatedly...or would that be repeatably...
 
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  • #48
bob012345 said:
So, C.N. Yang ties to M.C. Escher which ties to Penrose which ties to the topic.

hutchphd said:
At least not repeatedly...or would that be repeatably...

Well, ...

Yang Escher Penrose.png
 
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  • #49
2020 Nobel Lectures in Physics
Streamed live on Dec 7, 2020

Tune into watch the 2020 Nobel Lectures in Physics:
Black Holes, Cosmology, and Space-Time Singularities
Roger Penrose, University of Oxford, UK

A Forty Year Journey
Reinhard Genzel, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany and University of California, Berkeley, USA

From the Possibility to the Certainty of a Supermassive Black Hole
Andrea Ghez, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Roger Penrose
&t=5m09s introduction to Roger Penrose
&t=8m18s Roger Penrose


I had to include a
screenshot of the other speakers
because
the youtube link thumbnail
seems set.

Reinhard Genzel
&t=39m07s introduction to Reinhard Genzel
&t=40m11s Reinhard Genzel
1608144188469.png



Andrea Ghez
&t=68m52s introduction to Andrea Ghez
&t=70m12s Andrea Ghez
1608144277872.png

 
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