The “ВЫЗОВ” prize, a Russian challenge for the Nobel Prize? – Future

For more than a decade, Futura has regularly followed the work of Russian physicist, chemist and crystallographer Artem Oganov, who some believe would not be a surprise if he eventually won a Nobel Prize. A pure product of the prestigious Lomonosov Moscow State University, it is also a representative of the equally renowned Russian school of condensed matter physics, which has distinguished itself with Nobel Prizes in physics such as Lev Landau, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov. He has been a professor and researcher at several global institutions, from University College London to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

Today, as he told Futura, he is president of the scientific committee responsible for selecting the winners of a new Russian science prize, which will initially be reserved for the national sector but will become international. This is the “Challenge” prize or “Défi”, or in Russian the “ВЫЗОВ” prize. It is a manifesto in the spirit of Soviet-era science, whose impressive achievements we know.

A tradition of Russian science awards

There have already been international Russian science prizes such as the Pomerantchouk Prize for Theoretical Physics, awarded annually since 1998 by the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics in Moscow in memory of Isaac Pomerantchouk, who, together with Lev Landau, founded the institute’s theoretical physics department. Roger Penrose and Freeman Dyson were winners, to name a few.

There is also the Bogolioubov Prize for Young Scientists, in memory of the theoretical physicist and mathematician Nikolaï Bogolioubov, formerly educated at the University of Kyiv, whose work on quantum field theory Steven Hawking used to discover black hole radiation. Prize awarded to Aurélien Barrau.

Upon closer inspection, the “ВЫЗОВ” prize (phonetically it is called “vizof” in Russian) seems to be a completely modernized form of the Nobel Prize in Science, or at least a cousin of this prize, which it does not replace, since it is awarded in differences. The official award ceremony took place on December 19, 2023 to four winners in four different categories with prize money of around 100,000 euros each – 10 million rubles to be precise.

The aim of this prize is to highlight fundamental discoveries and technological innovations that can change the scientific and technological landscape in the short term. More specifically, it’s about the fundamental breakthroughs, ideas and inventions that are changing the landscape of modern science and the lives of every person. These are recent discoveries or work that should lead to discoveries and applications within approximately three to ten years.

It was the great Russian physicists Igor Tamm and Andrei Sakharov who once, in the middle of the Cold War, proposed the concept of the tokamak, which in Russian is the acronym for toroidnaïa kameras magnitnymi katushkami (in French: annular chamber with magnetic coils), the concept behind the international project Iter that will be continued. To get a reasonably accurate French translation, click on the white rectangle at the bottom right. English subtitles should then appear. Then click on the nut to the right of the rectangle, then click on “Subtitles” and finally “Auto-translate”. Select “French”. © Iter Organization

A modernized Nobel Prize with an international focus?

The “ВЫЗОВ” prize will therefore tend to reward young researchers immediately after their discoveries, while the Nobel Prize is more often awarded to researchers who are at least fifty or even almost or already retired and who have declared the Nobel Prize more than once. The prize would be for They would have been much more useful in their youth, just as they were developing their work and they would have needed funds to carry out other important projects.

The prize has another special feature: In addition to the traditional nomination by colleagues or organizations, nominations can also be made directly by those who see themselves as potential prize winners. Finally, it is more flexible than the Nobel Prize, which tends to be limited to certain disciplines; The new prize will be able to openly reward interdisciplinary developments and purely technical solutions. In short: If the intersection with the classic Nobel Prizes is not zero, they are not copies either.

If, as I said, this award is currently an internal award of Russia, it will be expanded from 2024, as Artem Oganov explained in an interview: “An international nomination will be added next year. We do not pay attention to citizenship, political opinions, nationality, gender, etc. The prize is awarded exclusively for scientific results. “.

Let us remember that the scientific communities of the West and the East maintained communication even during the Stalinist period or during the Cold War. The equally impressive Paul Dirac, one of the founders of quantum mechanics, was very friends with the formidable Nobel Prize winner Igor Tamm and traveled frequently to Russia in the 1930s and after the war, while also communicating with Piotr Kapitza and Vladimir Fock. More recently, in the 1970s and 1980s, we can also mention the Nobel Prize winner Kip Thorne, who often visited Yakov Seldovich’s astrophysics and relativistic cosmology group in Moscow.

From the brain to light and superconductivity to quantum information

Scientists who have made significant advances in the pharmacology of brain diseases, photonics and new computing platforms, quantum computing and the development of new scientific devices were selected for 2023.

In the “Scientist of the Year” category, the award goes to Dr. Raul Gainetdinov from St. Petersburg State University for his discoveries, particularly on the dopaminergic system, which enabled new approaches to the pharmacological treatment of brain diseases.

In the “Solving a technical problem” category, the prize goes to Hamlet Khodzhibagiyan, PhD, from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, for the development of a technology for producing magnets based on high-temperature superconductors for accelerators and charged energy carriers Particle storage.

In the Promise category (reserved for scientists under 35), the award goes to Ilya Semerikov, PhD, of the Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, for the development of a trapped-ion quantum processor and a demonstration of quantum algorithms .

In the Breakthrough category (for solving a major scientific or technological problem), the prize goes to Professor Pavlos Lagoudakis, PhD, of Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Skoltech, Russia’s MIT, for his advanced research based on computing platforms awarded over polaritons and for the development of an optical transistor.