The Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to Japanese-born American Syukuro Manabe, German Klaus Hasselmann and Italian Giorgio Parisi, on Tuesday for their work that helps in the understanding of complicated physical systems such as the earth's changing climate.


One half of the 10-million Swedish crown ($1.15 million) prize goes in equal parts to Manabe (90) and Hasselmann (89) for modelling the earth's climate and reliably predicting global warming. The other half of the award goes to Parisi, who discovered “hidden rules” behind seemingly random movements and swirls in gases and liquids in the early 1980s, which can be applied to aspects of neuroscience, machine learning and starling flight formations.


Complex systems are difficult to comprehend because of their randomness and disorder but this year's prize recognised new methods for defining and predicting their long-term behaviour.


“Manabe and Hasselmann provided the groundwork for our knowledge of the earth's climate and how it is influenced by humans. Parisi is being awarded for his breakthrough contributions to the theory of disordered materials and random processes," according to a statement from the Swedish Academy of Sciences.


Manabe, a senior meteorologist at Princeton University, explained how rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere can contribute to rising temperatures on the planet's surface. He also led the construction of physical models of the Earth's climate in the 1960s, creating the groundwork for today's climate models.


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Around ten years later, Hasselmann, a professor at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, developed a separate model that linked weather and climate, assisting in answering the question of how climate models can be trusted despite the fact that weather is unpredictable and chaotic.


He also established methods for identifying specific signals imprinted in the climate by natural processes and human actions, indicating that rising atmospheric temperatures are linked to human carbon dioxide emissions.


Parisi's revolutionary study centred on detecting hidden patterns in disordered complex materials known as spin glasses, allowing scientists to better comprehend and characterise a wide range of seemingly random materials and phenomena.


“Hasselmann said he didn't want to wake up from his "beautiful dream." He said, "I'm retired and have been a little lazy lately."


Parisi, a professor at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, said that “We are in a situation where we can have positive feedback that may stimulate the increase of temperature. It is clear that for the future generations, we have to act now in a very fast way and not with a strong delay.”


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