Nobel Prizes are normally given for discoveries rather than inventions. A discovery has been described as an abstract theory, which may further lead to an invention. Inventions are a process, more concrete and have a utilitarian purpose. This list looks at some of the fantastic discoveries that have been made by scientists and thinkers over several decades of hard work.
1. Guglielmo Marconi
In 1909, Marconi shared the Nobel Prize for Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun for “development of wireless telegraphy”. However it is his invention of the equipment to transmit electrical signals – which led to the development of the radio and wireless telegraphy later.
2. Albert Einstein
He won the Physics Nobel Prize in 1921 for his “discovery of the law of photoelectrical effect”. The actual discovery may not have touched our lives but without it many of the modern day electronics would not have come into existence.
3. Luis Walter Alvarez
He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1968, and had over 50 patents in his name. His most famous and useful invention was the radio distance and direction indicator. His invention of the hydrogen bubble chamber was used to detect subatomic particles and this further led to a major change in nuclear theories.
4. Frederick Banting
A 1923 Nobel Prize winner in medicine, he discovered insulin and the role that it played in treating diabetes. With his colleagues, he then invented means of extracting and isolating insulin, and administering it to diabetes patients.
5. Jack S. Kilby
A scientist who won the Physics Nobel Prize in 2000, Kilby is best known as the inventor of the handheld calculator and the thermal printer. His monolithic integrated circuit is one of the most widely used applications in electronic circuitry.