This year’s physics, chemistry and medicine prizes go to….
This week, all eyes turned to Stockholm as nine individuals added their names to the list of Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry and Medicine. Alfred Nobel’s will famously talks about rewarding scientific discoveries that “have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind”. This year’s awards seem to have followed that principle by rewarding discoveries that have given us an insight into the tiniest living objects, helped us to understand the brain, and provided us with a new approach to light.
The Physics prize was shared by three scientists from Japan and the US for their invention of the blue light emitting diode (LED). Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura made the first blue LEDs in the early 1990s, and their discovery has led to a new generation of energy-efficient bright white lights and full-colour LED screens.
The Chemistry prize was also shared amongst three researchers – Eric Betzig, Stefan Hell and William Moerner – who used fluorescence to develop microscopy techniques that allow us to study molecular processes in real time and peer into living cells. Before their discovery, it had been assumed that the resolution of optical microscopy was limited by the wavelength of light.
The Medicine prize was similarly awarded to a trio of scientists including John O’Keefe from University College London. Together with May-Britt Moser (the only woman on this year’s science list) and Edvard Moser, they discovered how the brain knows how to help the body navigate from one place to another. Their discovery has changed the way researchers understand Alzheimer’s disease.
To read more about each of the prizes, visit NobelPrize.org