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Astrophysicists win Nobel prize

Raymond Davis, 87, has received the 2002 Nobel physics prize
Raymond Davis, 87, has received the 2002 Nobel physics prize

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STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- The Nobel Prize in physics has been won by scientists from the United States and Japan, it has been announced.

The 2002 honour, announced on Tuesday, goes to Raymond Davis, 87, and Riccardo Giacconi, 71, of the United States and Masatoshi Koshiba, 76, of Japan.

They share the $1 million prize for pioneering work on astrophysics leading to the discovery of cosmic X-ray sources, the academy said in its citation.

It praised their "pioneering contributions to astrophysics," including the detection of cosmic neutrinos and the discovery of cosmic X-ray sources.

The laureates used the "very smallest components of the universe to increase our understanding of the very largest," including the Sun, stars, galaxies and supernovae, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

Mats Jonsson, chairman of the Nobel committee of physics said the winners' work had "opened new windows to space."

On Monday, two Britons and an American won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for discoveries that have shed light on diseases like AIDS as well as strokes. (Full story)

Britons Sydney Brenner and John E. Sulston and American H. Robert Horvitz received the award for discoveries into the "genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death." a statement from the Nobel office said.

Brenner, 75, is a researcher at the Molecular Sciences Institute in Berkeley, California. Sulston, 60, is with the Sanger Centre in Cambridge, England while Horvitz, 55, is with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The chemistry and economics awards will be announced on Wednesday while the winner of the coveted peace prize -- the only one not awarded in Sweden -- will be announced Friday in Oslo, Norway.

The only public hints are for the peace prize.

Among the nominees are believed to be Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has sought to unify his country after the hard-line Taliban was ousted by U.S.-led airstrikes, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the Salvation Army and the U.S. Peace Corps.

U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were nominated for leading the war against terrorism, The Associated Press reports, but are now seen as unlikely winners with the possibility of military action against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The winner of the 2002 Nobel Literature Prize will be revealed on Thursday.

Favourites for this year's award, according to literary experts in Europe and the Middle East, include Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, Hungarian novelist Imre Kertesz, U.S. poet John Ashbury and Syrian-born poet Adonis.

British novelist Doris Lessing is again mentioned as a contender, as are South Africa's J.M. Coetzee, veteran U.S. author Philip Roth and Canada's Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro.

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