The 2014 winners of the prestigious Wolf Prize arrived at the Knesset on Thursday for a professional conference organized by the Israeli parliament and the Wolf Foundation. On Sunday the laureates will receive their $100,000 prize, also at the Knesset.
The internationally renowned Wolf Prize has been awarded annually since 1978 by the president of Israel to a number of laureates for excellence in science and the arts.
On Thursday, as part of the conference honoring the eight Wolf Prize winners, the Knesset committee rooms will be converted into science halls, and the debates will focus on science, the arts and their influence on daily life. Apart from the laureates, top academics, hi-tech executives and government ministers will also take part in the conference, which is titled ”A Day of Excellence in the Art and Science Community.” The participants will discuss issues such as the future of mankind with regards to agriculture and medicine, how technology, science and art affect our daily lives, and more.
The conference is an initiative of the Wolf Foundation, and it is being held under the auspices of Knesset Speaker Edelstein; Education Minister Shai Piron, who serves as chairman of the Wolf Foundation, and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space, which is supporting the Wolf Foundation this year.
The conference will also feature an exhibition of works by contemporary Israeli artists such as Shai Id Aloni, Hanna Sahar and Zoya Cherkassky (curator: Judith Pearl; artistic consulting: Einat Cohen).
”The scientific advantage makes Israel what it is today,” Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein said ahead of the conference. ”Research and development capabilities…create a strong economy. They are the State of Israel`s `winning card.` Investment in science and in research and development capabilities makes the difference between a country that is still searching for its path and a country that is standing on both feet. We will remain committed to the values of science.”
The Wolf Prize in medicine will be awarded this year to Israeli Prof. Nahum Sonenberg of McGill University in Montreal for his discovery of the proteins that control the protein expression mechanism and their operation, and to professors Gary Ruvkun of Mass General Hospital Department of Molecular Biology and Harvard Medical School and Victor Ambros of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the United States for the discovery of the micro- RNA molecules that play a key role in controlling gene expression in natural processes and disease development.
In agriculture, the prize will be awarded to professors Jorje Dubcovsky, of the University of California, Davis, and Lief Andersson, of Uppsala University in Sweden, for their contribution to the study of plants and animals, through the use of cutting-edge genomic technologies.
In chemistry, the prize will be awarded to Prof. Chi-Huey Wong of Aacademica Sinica in Taiwan, for his numerous and original contributions to the development of innovative methods for the programmable and applied synthesis of complex oligosaccharides and glycol-proteins.
The prize in mathematics will be awarded to Prof. Peter Sarnak of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, United States, for his deep contributions in analysis, number theory, geometrics, and combinatory.
In the arts, the prize will be awarded to Olafur Eliasson, a Danish artist of Icelandic heritage, for his integration of arts and science, which evokes personal and universal moments of epiphany.
Over one third of Wolf winners go on to win a Nobel in in the fields of science honored by both prizes – medicine, physics, and chemistry. Past recipients of the Wolf Prize for excellence in science include Avram Hershko, Ada Yonath and Stephen Hawking. Past winners of the award for excellence in the arts include Zubin Mehta, Marc Chagall and Plácido Domingo.