Established by Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel in 1895, the Nobel Prize annually honours achievements in the fields of science, literature and peace along with bestowing accolades to the people behind these achievements. Every year has always been a joy to discover what these mavens have accomplished for the betterment of humankind.
Without further ado here are the latest three ground-breaking Nobel Prize laureates and their marvellous contributions.
Japanese biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Medicine Prize for his discoveries of the cellular mechanism known as autophagy, or “self-eating” in Ancient Greek. This refers to the internal recycling and degrading system in which cells break down unnecessary or damaged materials and transport them to its “recycling compartment” then rebuilds them into new structures.
Ohsumi's discoveries led to a new paradigm in the understanding of how cells recycle their content and when the internal autophagic process is disrupted, mutations in autophagy genes occur, and this could link to diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and even cancer. The 71-year-old scientist became the 23rd Japanese person to win a Nobel Prize, and received 8 million Swedish kronor (US$937,000) as his prize.
Three British scientists won the Nobel Prize in Physics for identifying unusual states of matter, also known as “exotic” matter. David J. Thouless, F. Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz shared the prize for revealing theoretical discoveries of "topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter", or, in other words, a bizarre world where matter can assume strange states.
For their research, the trio used advance mathematics to examine these states: gases, liquids and solids, which can produce unusual states of matter at extremely low or high temperatures, known as topological changes, and affect their electrical properties. The trio also extended the field of topology by discovering “exotic matter” in superconductivity and superfluidity that occurs in extremely thin layers. These discoveries are exciting since they could lead to advances in electronics and future computers, such as the superfast quantum computers.
Meanwhile, molecular machines won the prize in the chemistry field. Dr Sauvage from France, Dr Stoddart from Scotland and Dr Feringa from the Netherlands collaborated and developed extraordinary tiny machines that can be injected into the bloodstream. The molecules will then operate through external stimuli—such as changes in light or temperature—to deliver medicines or fight diseases. Their discovery could be applied to many usages in different scientific fields.
(Photo Credits: Pixelbay and Nobel Prize)