Nobel Peace Prize

During this week before the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockolm and Oslo, December 10, we present the Nobel Prize winners and what they have received the prize for.


opcw_logoNobel Peace Prize is awarded to Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for their work to prohibit chemical weapons. Thorbjørn Jagland, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, says that OPCW receive the Prize for their ”extensive efforts to eliminate chemial weapons”.

This year again, the Norwegian Nobel Committee receive critisim in the social media on their choise. Many had expressed their supprot of Malala Yousafzai, the young pakistani girl shot to the head and neck when on her way home from school because she is an activist fighting for children’s and expecaillay girls’ rights to education. Jagland defends their choice by reminding us that the disarmament figures prominently in Alfred Nobel’s will.

OPCW is an intergovernemntal organisation making sure that the UN chemical weapons convention is followed. According to OPCW they have been able to reduce the world’s chemical weapons arsenals by 80%. They have been working with disarmament and destruction of chemical weapons in Syria. 189 countries are members. Syria is not a member.

Pieta Eklund

Prize in Economic Sciences

During this week before the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockolm and Oslo, December 10, we present the Nobel Prize winners and what they have received the prize for.

The Prize in Economic Sciences is awarded to Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert Shiller. It is impossible to predict if the prices will go up or down tomorrow or next week but it is possible to foresee the broad course of longer time periods. They receive the prize due to the methods they have developed to study the prices of financial asset prices and have applied them in studies of detailed data on the prices of stocks, bonds or other assets. This has led to theory development and professional investment practice. They have laid the gound for asset price resarch. The Nobel Laureates research has had big impact for research of financial markets.

Eugene Fama is born 1939 in Boston, USA. Today he is Robert R. McCormick Distinguished Service Professor of Finance vid University of Chicago, IL, USA

Lars Peter Hansen is born 1952 in USA. Today he is David Rockefeller Distinguished Service Professor in Economics & Statistics vid University of Chicago, IL, USA.

Robert J. Shiller is born 1946. Today he is Sterling Professor of Economics vid Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

Reading tips and a longer popular science backgound to the Prize in Economic Sciences.

Pieta Eklund

Nobel Prize in Literature

During this week before the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockolm and Oslo, December 10, we present the Nobel Prize winners and what they have received the prize for.

The Nobel Prize in Literature is awared to the Canadian author with the words

”master of the contemporary short story”

Words which perhaps take thier inspiration from the author herself: short and precise. Alice Munro often writes about the lives of small town women and is known for clarity and psycoplogical realism. She debuted in 1968 as a novelist and the debute was awarded the most prestigious litarature prize in Canada. She has since then published a number of novels.

Alice Munro is born 1931 in Wingham, Canada.

Titlarna av Alice Munro som finns på biblioteket (both Swedish and English).

Pieta Eklund

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

During this week before the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockolm and Oslo, December 10, we present the Nobel Prize winners and what they have received the prize for.

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded to James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof.They receive the prize for ther work on the transport system of cells is organized. Cells produce molecules and these are sent in small pagages, vesicles, to different parts of the body. The Nobel Laureates discovered how these molecules are transported to the right place at the right time in the cell.

Rothman, Schekman and Südhof have all discovered different parts of the transport system. Schenkman discovered that there is a group of genes which act as traffic leaders and are needed for vesicle traffic. Rothman discovered that the protein machinery that allows the vesicle to fuse with its target to deliver its cargo and Südof revealed how the signals instruct where and when the vesicles are to unload their cargo.

The reason these three discoveries are so important is that they give us insight to disease processes. Transportation is a fundamental process in the cell and defective vesicle transportation is present in various neurological and immunological diseases, as well as in diabetes.

James E. Rothman is born 1950 in Haverhill, Massachusetts, USA. Today he is a Professor in cell biology at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

Randy W. Schekman is born 1948 i St Paul, Minnesota, USA. Today he is Professor at the Department of Molecular and Cell biology at University of California in Berkeley. He is alsos an investigator of Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Tomas C. Südhof  is born 1955 in Göttingen, Germany. Today he is Professor of Melecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University.

Some key publications:

Novick, P. & Schekman, R. (1979). Secretion and cell-surface growth are blocked in a temperature-sensitive mutant of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 76(4), pp. 1858-1862.

Balch, W.E., Dunphy, W.G., Braell, W.A. & Rothman, J.E. (1984). Reconstitution of the transport of protein between successive compartments of the Golgi measured by the coupled incorporation of N-acetylglucosamine. Cell, 39, pp. 405-416.

Kaiser, C.A. & Schekman, R. (1990) Distinct sets of SEC genes govern transport vesicle formation and fusion early in the secretory pathway. Cell, 61, pp. 723-733.

Perin, M.S., Fried, V.A., Mignery, G.A., Jahn, R. & Südhof, T.C. (1990). Phospholipid binding by a synaptic vesicle protein homologous to the regulatory region of protein kinase C. Nature, 345, pp. 260-263.

Sollner, T., Whiteheart, W., Brunner, M., Erdjument-Bromage, H., Geromanos, S., Tempst, P. & Rothman, J.E. (1993). SNAP receptor implicated in vesicle targeting and fusion. Nature, 362, pp. 318-324.

Hata, Y., Slaughter, C.A. & Südhof, T.C. (1993). Synaptic vesicle fusion complex contains unc-18 homologue bound to syntaxin. Nature, 366, pp. 347-351.

Press Release from the Nobel Assembly at Karlokinska Institutet.

Pieta Eklund

Nobel Prize in Physics

During this week before the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockolm and Oslo, December 10, we present the Nobel Prize winners and what they have received the prize for.

The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs.It was in 1964 when the two of them, independently of each another suggested a theory on how particles acquire mass. In 2012 the theory was confirmed by the discovery of the so called Higgs particle at CERN laboratory in Switzerland.

The importance with the discovery is that the mechanism for how particles acquire mass is a central part in the Standard Model in physics. This model describes how the world is built. According to it all things consists of matter particles which are governed by force particles which make everything work as it should. The Standard Model needs just one more particle, namely the Higgs particle, to be complete. Like all matter particles have their matter field the force particles have their force field and Higgs particle has Higgs field. This field can be described like a sort of vibration which gives the other particles mass, which in turn is important for how atoms and moleules are built and held together. If Higgs field wasn’t there all materia would collapse.

CERN has been working to find the Higgs particle. Last year, July 4th 2012, they announced the discovery of the Higgs partile and Engelrts and Higgs theory was confirmed.

François Englert is born 1932 in Etterbeek, Belgium. Today he is Professor emeritus at Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgien

Peter Higgsis born 1929 in Newcastle, Storbritannien. Today he is Professor emeritus at University of Edinburgh, Storbritannien.

CERN accounces the discovery of the Higgs particle.

Reading tips and a longer popular science background to the Higgs particle from Nobelprize.org.

Pieta Eklund

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

During this week before the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockolm and Oslo, December 10, we present the Nobel Prize winners and what they have received the prize for.

The Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry are Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel.These three researchers have made it possible to map chemical processes with the help of computers. It is important to have detailed knowledge of chemical processes because it makes it possible to opitmize e.g. solar cells, catalysts and medicines.

In 1970s Karplus, Levitt and Warshel develope methods which have made it possible for us to do chemical experiments on the computer and and examine every step in the processes which other wise would be invisible for the naked eye. Take pohotosythesis. It is impossible to see the reactions occuring in the process without a computer. You can see how atoms and iones are positioned in relation to each ther but this does not tell you what they do which is what you have to find out. For this you need the computer programmes that the Nobel Laureates have laid the foundation for.

These computer programmes calculate possible scenarios which is caleld simulation or modelling. These simulation give ideas to as what roles atoms play at the different stages of the chemical reaction. After it is easier to carry out real experiments to confirm if the computer was right or not. These experiments give new leads which can in turn lead to better simulations.

To be able to use computers to carry our experiments has given us a deeper understanding of chemical processes. Methods thant Karplus, Levitt and Warshel developed are usable in all kinds of studies of chemistry.

Martin Karplus is born i Wien 1930. Today he is Professeur Conventionné, Université de Strasbourg, Frankrike and Theodore William Richards Professor of Chemistry, emeritus, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.

Michael Levitt is born 1947 i Pretoria Sydafrika. Today he is Robert W. and Vivian K.Cahill Professor in Cancer Research, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.

Arieh Warshel is born 1940 in Kibbutz Sde-Nahum, Israel. Today he is Distinguished Professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Reading tips and a longer popular science background on Noble Prize in Chemistry.

Pieta Eklund