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And the Nobel Prize winner is….

Written by Science

To many known as the most prestigious award, to many the biggest dream and a lifetime commitment. The Nobel Prize week began last Monday, and since, we will get to know the laureates in six categories.

The award in the first category – Medicine and Physiology was awarded to two American scientists: William Kaelin Jr and Gregg Semenza, and a British scientist Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe. They have been working on the molecular basis of hypoxia an essential mechanism that allows our body to respond to changing oxygen levels. The researchers discovered ‘the molecular switch that regulates how our cells adapt when the oxygen levels drop’. This vital process, when faulty, can be responsible for many medical conditions, such as cancer or anaemia. Its understanding may hopefully help in developing new strategies to fight many diseases, claimed the Stockholm Committee. The laureates will share the Nobel Prize and receive around £278,667 each.

On Tuesday, the Physics Nobel Prize was awarded “for contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth’s place in the cosmos”. One half of the Prize was given to cosmologist James Peebles for his discoveries in the 60s and 70s. The winner has been trying to find what is the universe made of, working on theoretical explanations of the cosmic microwave background. He has been waiting for a long while, right?

The second half of the Physics award was shared between Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz “for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star”, which they first saw in 1995. (Also a fair bit of time, right Mr Peebles?) Their observation changed the understanding of the planet formation, and gave rise to developing new techniques in looking for new planets outside the Solar System.

The winners of the Chemistry Nobel were announced on Wednesday: John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino have been working separately but on the same thing: the lithium-ion battery. It was first created in the early 1970s by M. Stanley Whittingham, and then thanks to John B. Goodenough, it doubled its power. Further work by Akira Yoshino improved its safety, by changing the use of pure lithium, to lithium ion electrodes. Present on the markets since 1991, this light yet capacious thing powers majority of electrical devices – from cars to smartphones

As is tradition, the Nobel prizes in the science categories were announced first. The remaining prizes – literature, peace and economics will be announced over the course of the week.

Last modified: 20th October 2019

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