While the Nobel Prizes are mostly administered by Swedish entities, its Peace Prize is a Norwegian concern. The Kavli Prizes are a distinct set of scientific prizes from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, with assistance from the Kavli Foundation (usually flogged in these posts for its video contest). The awards acknowledge accomplishments in astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience.
Awarded in even numbered years, the 2014 Kavli Laureates are the fourth class of scientists recognized for their work. The Astrophysics Prize acknowledges the work of Alan H. Guth, Andrei D. Linde, and Alexei A. Starobinsky in the theory of cosmic inflation. The Prize in Nanoscience acknowledges achievements in extending the resolution limits of optical microscopy and imaging. This year’s laureates are Thomas W. Ebbesen, Stefan W. Hell, and Sir John B. Pendry. The 2014 Neuroscience Prize was given to Brenda Milner, John O’Keefe, and Marcus E. Raichle. Their accomplishment was determining the nature of specialized networks in the brain dedicated to memory and cognition.
Announced the same week as the new class of Kavli Laureats were the 2014 recipients of the Shaw Prizes, which have been awarded annually since 2004. The Shaw Prizes are in Astronomy, Life Science and Medicine, and Mathematical Sciences, and administered by a prize foundation established by Run Shaw, who endowed the awards.
This year’s Astronomy laureates are Daniel Eisenstein, Shaun Cole and John Peacock. It acknowledges their work on measuring features in large-scale galaxies. This work has helped refine the constraints on the cosmological constant. The Shaw Prize for Life Science and Medicine was awarded to Kazutoshi Mori and Peter Walker for their discovery of the unfolded protein response in the endoplasmic reticulum. This reticulum helps transfer molecules between the cell nucleus and the cytoplasm. The Mathematical Sciences prize went to George Lusztig for contributions to algebra, algebraic geometry and representation theory.
Kavli and Shaw Laureates receive (or share) prizes of $1 million U.S. Both awards (and similar science prizes not named Nobel) are comparatively young, so it will be some time before such prizes break through to a wider audience like the Nobels have. While Craig Ferguson won’t be around much longer to do monologues on these prizes, perhaps they will eventually become proxies for national status in science and technology – just like the Nobels.