The Nobel Prize is bestowed annually in categories as selected by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Frédéric Mistral was born on this date in 1830. He was a French writer and lexicographer of the Occitan language. Mistral won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1904 and was a founding member of Félibrige and a member of l’Académie de Marseille. He was born in Maillane in the Bouches-du-Rhône département in southern France. His name in his native language was Frederi Mistral (Mistrau) according to the Mistralian orthography or Frederic Mistral (/Mistrau) according to the classical orthography. Mistral’s fame was owing in part to Alphonse de Lamartine who sang his praises in the fortieth edition of his periodical Cours familier de littérature, following the publication of Mistral’s long poem Mirèio. He is the most revered writer in modern Occitan literature. Alphonse Daudet, with whom he maintained a long friendship, devoted to the Poet Mistral one of his Lettres de mon moulin, in an extremely eulogistic way.
The Institut de droit international (Institute of International Law) is an organization devoted to the study and development of international law, whose membership comprises the world’s leading public international lawyers. In 1904 the Institute received the Nobel Peace Prize. The institute was founded by Gustave Moynier and Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns, together with nine other renowned international lawyers, on this date in 1873 in the Salle de l’Arsenal of the Ghent Town Hall in Belgium. The founders of 1873 were Pasquale Stanislao Mancini (Rome), President, Emile de Laveleye (Liege), Tobias Michael Carel Asser (Amsterdam), James Lorimer (Edinburgh), Wladimir Besobrassof (Saint-Petersburg), Gustave Moynier (Geneva), Jean Gaspar Bluntschli (Heidelberg), Augusto Pierantoni (Naples), Carlos Calvo (Buenos Aires), Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns (Ghent), and David Dudley Field (New York).
Hideki Yukawa ForMemRS FRSE died on this date in 1981. He was a Japanese theoretical physicist and the first Japanese Nobel laureate. He was born as Hideki Ogawa in Tokyo and grew up in Kyoto. In 1929, after receiving his degree from Kyoto Imperial University, he stayed on as a lecturer for four years. After graduation, he was interested in theoretical physics, particularly in the theory of elementary particles. In 1932, he married Sumi Yukawa, and his family name was changed to Yukawa; they had two sons, Harumi and Takaaki. In 1933 he became an assistant professor at Osaka University. In 1935 he published his theory of mesons, which explained the interaction between protons and neutrons, and was a major influence on research into elementary particles. In 1940 he became a professor in Kyoto University. In 1940 he won the Imperial Prize of the Japan Academy, in 1943 the Decoration of Cultural Merit from the Japanese government. In 1949 he became a professor at Columbia University, the same year he received the Nobel Prize in Physics, after the discovery by Cecil Frank Powell, Giuseppe Occhialini and César Lattes of Yukawa’s predicted pion in 1947. Yukawa also worked on the theory of K-capture, in which a low energy electron is absorbed by the nucleus, after its initial prediction by G. C. Wick. Yukawa became the first chairman of Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in 1953. He received a Doctorate, honoris causa, from the University of Paris and honorary memberships in the Royal Society, Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Indian Academy of Sciences, the International Academy of Philosophy and Sciences, and the Pontificia Academia Scientiarum. He was an editor of Progress of Theoretical Physics and published the books Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (1946) and Introduction to the Theory of Elementary Particles (1948). In 1955, he joined ten other leading scientists and intellectuals in signing the Russell–Einstein Manifesto, calling for nuclear disarmament. Yukawa retired from Kyoto University in 1970 as a Professor Emeritus. Owing to increasing infirmity, in his final years, he appeared in public in a wheelchair. He died at his home in Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, on 8 September 1981 from pneumonia and heart failure, aged 74. His tomb is in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto.
Hermann Staudinger died on this date in 1965. He was a German chemist who demonstrated the existence of macromolecules, which he characterized as polymers. For this work he received the 1953 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He is also known for his discovery of ketenes and of the Staudinger reaction.
John Franklin Enders died on this date in 1985. He was an American biomedical scientist and Nobel laureate. Enders has been called “The Father of Modern Vaccines. In 1949, Enders, Thomas Huckle Weller, and Frederick Chapman Robbins reported successful in vitro culture of an animal virus—poliovirus. The three received the 1954 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discovery of the ability of polioviruses to grow in cultures of various types of tissue”. Meanwhile, Jonas Salk applied the Enders-Weller-Robbins technique to produce large quantities of the polio virus and then developed a polio vaccine in 1952. Upon the 1954 polio vaccine field trial, whose success Salk announced on the radio, Salk became a public hero but failed to credit the many other researchers that his effort rode upon, and was somewhat shunned by America’s scientific establishment. In 1954, Enders and Peebles isolated measles virus from an 11-year-old boy, David Edmonston. Disappointed by polio vaccine’s development and involvement in some cases of polio and death—what Enders attributed to Salk’s technique—Enders began development of measles vaccine. In October 1960, an Enders team began trials on 1,500 mentally retarded children in New York City and on 4,000 children in Nigeria. On 17 September 1961, New York Times announced the measles vaccine effective. Refusing credit for only himself, Enders stressed the collaborative nature of the effort. In 1963, Pfizer introduced a deactivated measles vaccine, and Merck & Co introduced an attenuated measles vaccine.
Willard Frank Libby died on this date in 1980. He was an American physical chemist noted for his role in the 1949 development of radiocarbon dating, a process which revolutionized archaeology. For his contributions to the team that developed this process, Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960. Libby was appointed Instructor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1933 and during the next ten years was promoted successively to Assistant and then Associate Professor of Chemistry. He spent the 1930s building sensitive Geiger counters to measure weak natural and artificial radioactivity. In 1941 he joined Berkeley’s chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma. He was awarded a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1941 and elected to work at Princeton University, but on December 8, 1941, this Fellowship was interrupted for war work on America’s entry into World War II, and Libby went to Columbia University on the Manhattan District Project, on leave from the Department of Chemistry, California University, till 1945. Libby was responsible for the gaseous diffusion separation and enrichment of the uranium-235 which was used in the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In 1945 he became a professor at the University of Chicago. In 1954, he was appointed to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. In 1959, he became Professor of Chemistry at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), a position he held until his retirement in 1976. He taught honors freshman chemistry from 1959 to 1963 (in keeping with a University tradition that senior faculty teach this class). He was Director of the University of California statewide Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) for many years including the lunar landing time. He also started the first Environmental Engineering program at UCLA in 1972. Although Libby retired in 1977, he, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, remained professionally active until his death in 1980.