Among The Wolf Prize winners this year – Sir Paul McCartney

The laureates of the 2018 Wolf Prize were announced today (Monday), at a special event hosted for the first time by the President of Israel, Mr. Reuven Rivlin, at his residence in Jerusalem. The event was attended by Vice Chairman and Wolf Prize past winner Professor Dan Shechtman; CEO of the Wolf Foundation Reut Inon Berman; and members of the Wolf Foundation board and trustees.

The five awards, which total half a million dollars, will be divided this year between nine winners from five countries: United States, Canada, Japan, Hungary, and UK. The prizes will be presented to the winners by President Rivlin at a special ceremony to be held at the Knesset in Jerusalem, at the end of May 2018.

  • The Wolf Prize for Music will be shared by two laureates: Sir Paul McCartney, for his seminal contribution to music in the modern era; and to Adam Fischer, an inspirational conductor and eloquent defender of human rights.
  • The Wolf Prize for Agriculture will be granted to Prof. Gene Robinson from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne, for leading the genomics revolution in organismal and population biology of the honeybee.
  • The Wolf Prize for Chemistry will be shared by two laureates: Prof. Omar Yaghi, University of California, Berkeley, for pioneering reticular chemistry via metal-organic frameworks and covalent organic framework; and Prof. Makoto Fujita from University of Tokyo, for conceiving metal-directed assembly principles leading to large highly porous complexes.
  • The Wolf Prize for Physics will be shared by two laureates: Prof. Charles H. Bennett from IBM Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY, USA, and Prof. Gilles Brassard from University of Montréal, Canada, for founding and advancing the fields of Quantum Cryptography and Quantum Teleportation.
  • The Wolf Prize for Mathematics will be shared by two laureates: Prof. Alexander Beilinson and Prof. Vladimir Drinfeld, both from the University of Chicago, for their groundbreaking work in algebraic geometry, representation theory, and mathematical physics.

The laureates are expected to arrive in Israel at the award ceremony and a series of related events at the end of May.

The President began by noting the announcement earlier in the day of the Israel Prize winner for 2018, author David Grossman. He said, “I would like to congratulate David Grossman, one of the greatest writers we have ever known among the Israeli people. The State of Israel was awarded itself today today when Minister of Education Naftali Bennett awarded the Israel Prize for Literature and Poetry to David Grossman. This is a tribute from the entire nation for this great author, for his writing, for his sensitivity, for his heroism, which have become part of us, for his great heart and sharp eye. We are delighted that he should receive this award as we approach 70 of the State of Israel.”

The President continued, "The day the winners of the Wolf Prize are announced is a day of celebration, not only for the award winners, but for scientists, researchers, artists, creators, culture lovers, the State of Israel and the entire world.” He added, “Israel is proud to encourage science and development, art and creativity, and from here, from Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, we are excited and excited to congratulate the winners.”

He stressed, “The winners are selected not only because of scientific or artistic excellence, but because they have done so much for humanity and for friendly relations between peoples. The nine winners this year - born in the United States, Japan, Hungary, Britain and Canada, and to my delight, Professor Omar Yaghi, a native of Amman in neighboring Jordan - together prove that the human spirit has no limits and no borders when it works for humanity.

“All the winners stand at the very forefront, internationally, of scientific research and creativity. From discoveries in physics, to revolutionary discoveries on the honeybee and biological and agricultural research, and pioneering and significant discoveries in chemistry and mathematics, to the musical works which inspire future generations. Together with the Prize Committee, I and many Israelis, share the eternal love of the works of Sir Paul McCartney and the Beatles. And together with the conductor and musician Adam Fisher, I and many Israelis share a love for classical music.”

He added, "The Wolf Foundation and its international standing reflect Israel’s position as a leader in the fields of science, development and advanced research," said the President and concluded, “The State of Israel is the most impressive success story of a developing country that has become a superpower thanks to knowledge and human capital. We must continue to invest in education and science, to promote excellence in research, in order to preserve and even strengthen Israel's standing on the global research front.”

Announcing the awards on behalf of the Wolf Foundation, Prof. Dan Shechtman commented, “The prize winners’ exceptional achievements are the fruits of a never-ending journey. A courageous journey. A journey whereby one who travels, also navigates. Endless curiosity and a lack of fear of norms and prejudice inspire and drive this journey. And it is this same curiosity and fearlessness that propel the climb to its peak, where the world’s panorama is different, in ways we’d never observed before. Perhaps these pioneers’ greatest contribution is not in paving new routes, but in providing a compass for others to navigate their own paths toward a vast landscape, and taking the roads less travelled.”

About The Wolf Foundation

The Wolf Foundation began its activities in 1976, with an initial endowment fund of $10million donated by the Wolf family. The Foundation's founders and major donors were Dr. Ricardo Subirana y Lobo Wolf and his wife Francisca. Annual income from investments is used for prizes, scholarships and Foundation operating expenses. The Foundation has a status of a private not-for-profit organization. Its objectives and prize administration details and procedures are grounded in the “Wolf Foundation Law-1975”. Israel's State Comptroller oversees all Foundation's activities. In accordance with the above-mentioned Law, the Minister of Education and Culture acts as Chairman of the Council.

Facts and Figures about Wolf Prize:

·      There have been 329 laureates.

·      The oldest winner, Oscar Zariski, won the Wolf Prize for Mathematics 1991 at the age of 92, while the youngest winner, Gerard Hooft, won the Wolf Prize for Physics 1981 at age of 35. The oldest winner alive today is John O. Almquist who won the Wolf Prize for laureate in Agriculture 1981. The average age of winning is 65.

·      The country with the biggest number of laureates is USA- 176, UK is the second with 29. Over the years 21 Israelis won the prize.

·      Over the years 60 laureates have won the prize for mathematics, 61 for physics, 50 for chemistry, 57 for medicine, 51 for agriculture, 13 for art, 21 for music and 15 for architecture.

Music 2018

The jury panel of the 2018 Wolf Prize in Music has unanimously decided to award the prize in equal parts to two laureates: Sir Paul McCartney, the Orpheus of our era and Adam Fischer, inspirational conductor and eloquent defender of human rights.

Sir Paul McCartney is one of the greatest songwriters of all time.  His versatility underlies an extraordinary wingspan, from the most physical rock to melodies of haunting and heartbreaking intimacy.  His lyrics have an equally broad range, from the naive and the charming to the poignant and even desperate.  He has touched the hearts of the entire world, both as a Beatle and in his subsequent bands, including Wings.  Like all great art, his melodies are both of their time and beyond time:  today a third generation finds itself under the spell of his invidious imagination.  There is little doubt that his songs, like those of the great classical masters Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Fauré, Debussy and Ravel, and like those of his more modern predecessors (among them Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and George Gershwin) will be sung and savored as long as there are human beings to lift up their voices.

With some 60 gold records and sales of more than 100 million singles in the course of his career, McCartney is arguably the most commercially successful performer and composer in popular music. The 1965 Beatles track Yesterday (wholly written by McCartney and performed alone with a string quartet) has been played some six million times on U.S. radio and television, far outstripping its nearest competitor. Moreover, with over 3,000 cover versions, it is also the most-recorded song ever. In 2009 the U.S. Library of Congress announced that McCartney would be awarded its Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

More than a rock musician, McCartney is now regarded as a British institution; an icon like warm beer and cricket, he has become part of British identity.

Ádám Fischer is one of the most distinguished conductors active today.  Trained in Budapest and Vienna, he has had a long association with the Vienna State Opera and was made an honorary member in 2017.  He held the post of principal conductor in Karlsruhe, general music director in Freiburg im Breisgau, and music director of the Kassel Opera.

He created an international Gustav Mahler Festival in Kassel and founded and directs the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra, performing in the venue in which Haydn premiered a majority of his symphonies.  His active career encompasses the major opera houses and most prestigious orchestras of the world.

His support of human rights, and in particular, his protest against the political developments in his native Hungary, make him an artist of exemplary integrity--a quality that shapes his interpretations as well as the morality of his stance.

The Wolf Foundation is proud to recognize in Ádám Fischer a musical leader beloved around the world, whose aspirations serve as an inspiration to us all.

Agriculture 2018

The jury panel of the 2018 Wolf Prize in Agriculture has unanimously decided to award the prize to: Professor Gene Robinson, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne for leading the genomics revolution in organismal and population biology of the honeybee.

Honeybees are arguably one of the most important agricultural animals on the planet. It is estimated that one-third of the human diet is a direct result of the activities of honey bees as pollinators of more than 100 agriculturally important crops, including most of the world’s production of almonds, soybeans, buckwheat, and cotton. Their tremendous importance in agriculture and their complex social structure makes the honey bee a vital subject of biological and agricultural research. Professor. Gene Robinson’s research spans not only pioneering studies on the basic biology of the honey bee but also applied science dealing with the devastating disease of Colony Collapse Disorder, which directly threatens the world’s food supply.

Robinson led an international consortium of more than 170 investigators from 13 countries, who sequenced the honey bee genome. As part of the analysis of the honey bee genome, Robinson led the team that discovered that honey bees have a fully functional methylation system, the first such discovery in insects. This has led to hundreds of studies that explore how insect epigenetics can be used in pest control.

Robinson also used the honey bee to pioneer the application of genomics to the study of social behavior, thus propelling this agriculturally important species to a position of prominence in neuroscience. This eventually led Robinson to reformulate the perennial nature/nurture problem in modern, genomic terms. Gene Robinson has made extraordinary contributions to our understanding of the honey bee, which has shaped the present and future of apiculture. In addition, his amazing discoveries have impacted other disciplines, including social behavior and mental disorders. Few scientists can claim to have founded an entire field of study – sociogenomics – which has drawn interest globally. Robinson’s influence on the field of honey bee biology is dominant, and unmatched for any other agriculturally relevant animal.

Chemistry 2018

The jury panel of the 2018 Wolf Prize in Chemistry has unanimously decided to award the prize in equal parts to two laureates: Professor Omar Yaghi, University of California, Berkeley, for pioneering reticular chemistry via metal-organic frameworks and covalent organic frameworks. Professor Makoto Fujita from University of Tokyo, for conceiving metal-directed assembly principles leading to large highly porous complexes.

Omar Yaghi: Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), where metal-oxide units are used as anchors for joining organic linkers into robust crystalline open structures, were generalized by using poly-nuclear metal acetates and a vast number of organic linkers. Cluster rigidity imparted directionality in building structures by design and pinning down atoms and molecules in specific geometrical and spatial arrangements. Materials with controlled porosity, pore-functionality and metrics were thus obtained. MOFs were successfully applied in hydrogen and methane storage, capture of carbon dioxide and harvesting water from air. Using only organic molecules, 2D and 3D covalent organic frameworks (COFs) extended the field of organic chemistry beyond discrete molecules and polymers. MOFs and COFs have given rise to the new field of reticular chemistry, where molecules are stitched together by strong bonds to make porous frameworks into which molecules can be stored and transformed in ways not possible otherwise.

Makoto Fujita: The major achievement is the introduction of a new construction principle, featured as "metal-guided synthesis" or "metal-directed self-assembly", leading to the spontaneous formation of cyclic structures, catenanes, and three-dimensional cages that are assembled from a large number of transition metal centers and simple coordinating organic molecules.  The cages can be very large and behave as large molecular containers, leading to new chemical properties and reactivity of substrates entrapped in these cages. Recently, the same principle applied to crystallography led to a revolutionary method for determining X-ray structures of compounds which were not obtained as crystals but rather encapsulated in crystalline self-assembled cages.

Physics 2018

The jury panel of the 2018 Wolf Prize in physics has unanimously decided to award the prize in equal parts to two laureates: Professor. Charles H. Bennett from IBM Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY, USA and Professor Gilles Brassard from University of Montréal, Canada, for founding and advancing the fields of Quantum Cryptography and Quantum Teleportation

Charles Bennett and Gilles Brassard have made seminal and highly original contributions as the founding fathers of the rapidly expanding field of Quantum Information Science. Throughout their lifelong collaboration, they have uncovered connections between quantum physics, information, communication and computation, shedding light on new aspects of quantum theory as well as revolutionizing computational technology and cryptography.  In the 1980s’, Bennett and Brassard jointly invented quantum cryptography.  The Quantum Key distribution protocol which they devised and later demonstrated experimentally makes possible the transmission of fully secure messages over an insecure line, a feat which is known to be impossible using classical techniques. This has led to a major technological application of entanglement, one of the most fundamental and counterintuitive aspects of quantum mechanics.  In the 1990’s they, together with four colleagues, invented quantum teleportation which allows the communication of quantum information over classical channels, also a task previously believed to be impossible. Two decades after their proposal, quantum teleportation has now been demonstrated over distances exceeding 1000 kilometers and is clearly destined to pay a major role in future secure communications. These new quantum-based theories of Bennett and Brassard offer unprecedented security for classical information transfer as well as the ultimate means for transmitting quantum information. The new field, which they have pioneered, straddles the boundaries of quantum physics, information theory, and computation and has enormously enriched all three.

Mathematics 2018

The jury panel of the 2018 Wolf Prize in Mathematics has unanimously decided to award the prize in equal parts to two laureates: Professor Alexander Beilinson and Professor Vladimir Drinfeld, both from the University of Chicago, for their groundbreaking work in algebraic geometry, representation theory, and mathematical physics.

Professor Alexander Beilinson made deep contributions to representation theory and algebraic geometry. Among his major achievements are proofs of conjectures of Kazhdan-Lusztig and Jantzen, the formulation of far-reaching conjectures (Beilinson conjectures) about motivic cohomology and special values of L-functions, and his joint work with Vladimir Drinfeld on the geometric Langlands program which stimulated major progress at the interface of geometry and mathematical physics: in the theory of vertex operator algebras, conformal field theory, and string theory.

Professor Vladimir Drinfeld introduced fundamental concepts in arithmetic geometry, the theory of algebraic groups, and their representations, which had an enormous impact on modern mathematics. Among his contributions to arithmetic geometry are the notions of Drinfeld module, Drinfeld upper half-plane, and Drinfeld shtukas. His theory of quantum groups is central to many problems in algebra and mathematical physics; here, the notion of Drinfeld associator plays a major role. Jointly with Alexander Beilinson, he geometrized the theory of vertex operator algebras, which led to the creation of foundations of the geometric Langlands program, connecting central results in arithmetic geometry and the theory of automorphic forms to quantum field theory and the theory of integrable systems.    


Photo  Mark Neiman / GPO