1997 Nobel Prize Winners

  • Peace: International Campaign to Ban Landmines (founded 1992) and Jody Williams (U.S.) for their work to ban and remove antipersonnel landmines worldwide. The Committee lauded their success in developing a “process which in the space of a few years changed a ban on anti-personnel mines from a vision to a feasible reality.”
  • Literature: Dario Fo (Italy) for his work as a satirical dramatist, director, and actor. “With a blend of laughter and gravity, he opens our eyes to abuses and injustices in society and also the wider historical perspective in which they can be placed,” the Committee said.
  • Physics: Steven Chu, William D. Phillips (both U.S.), and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (France) for developing a method to cool and trap atoms using light from lasers. The discovery could lead to more accurate atomic clocks for use in space navigation.
  • Chemistry: Paul D. Boyer (U.S.), Jens C. Skou (Denmark), and John E. Walker (U.K.) for their discoveries about a molecule that allows the human body to store and transfer energy between cells. Skou received half the prize money for his discovery of an enzyme that works with adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to regulate levels of potassium and sodium in cells. Boyer and Walker shared the other half for their discovery of the process that creates ATP.
  • Medicine: Stanley B. Prusiner (U.S.) for his discovery of a new type of germ, called prions, that causes degenerative brain disorders, including “mad cow” disease. Critics conceded the existence of prions, but not that they cause disease.
  • Economics: Robert C. Merton and Myron S. Scholes (both U.S.) for developing a formula that determines the value of stock options and other derivatives.