Published: Oct. 19, 2018 By

Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize confers on winners great prestige and a measure of celebrity. It also comes with a 175-gram gold medal. John “Jan” Hall’s will soon be on display at CU Boulder.

One of four scientists to share the 2005 prize in physics, Hall and his wife, Lindy, have donated his gold presentation medal and Nobel diploma to the campus Heritage Center, an archive and museum about CU Boulder.

Five CU scholars have won the Nobel Prize: Four in physics, one in chemistry. Hall, now 84, is the first to turn his over to the university. The museum previously received CU chemist Tom Cech’s original Nobel diploma and a replica of his medal.

With the Halls’ donation in hand, the Heritage Center, located in Old Main, is planning a Nobel Prize gallery for showcasing the medal and highlighting CU Boulder’s other laureates: Cech, Carl Wieman, Eric Cornell and David Wineland. The exhibition also will recognize CU affiliates involved with Nobel Peace Prize efforts. Work is expected to begin later this year, Heritage Center director Allyson Smith said.

Hall, a laser expert and member of CU Boulder’s physics community since the early 1960s, won the prize for his contributions to laser-based precision spectroscopy; basically, using light to make extremely precise measurements of various natural phenomena.

“There can never be enough time or opportunity to speak individually with young people starting their advanced educations so it is hoped that visual contact with such memorabilia will inspire and motivate them to succeed at high levels and realize their goals and ambitions,” said Hall.  

CU Boulder’s five Nobel laureates are among fewer than 900 individuals to have won the prize since its 1901 establishment.

The medal, made of 18-carat recycled gold, depicts prize founder Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist and engineer known for inventing dynamite, and, of course, for the prize in his name.


Photo by Peter van Evert / Alamy Stock Photo