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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2010 Nobel Prizes Declared

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2010 Nobel Prize for Physics

Two Russian-born scientists based at the University of Manchester in the UK shared the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics. The honour is for their “groundbreaking” work on a material with amazing properties.
Andrei Geim, 51, and Konstantin Novoselov, 36, have been announced as the winners of the 900,000 pounds (10 million Swedish Kronor) prize for their research on graphene. A thin flake of ordinary carbon, just one atom thick, lies behind the prize. The two experts have shown that carbon in such a flat form has exceptional properties that originate from the remarkable world of quantum physics, a release from the Nobel committee said. Graphene is a form of carbon. As a material it is completely new - not only the thinnest ever but also the strongest. As a conductor of electricity it performs as well as copper. As a conductor of heat it outperforms all other known materials.
It is almost completely transparent, yet so dense that not even helium, the smallest gas atom, can pass through it. Carbon, the basis of all known life on earth. Geim and Novoselov extracted the graphene from a piece of graphite such as is found in ordinary pencils. Using regular adhesive tape they managed to obtain a flake of carbon with a thickness of just one atom. This at a time when many believed it was impossible for such thin crystalline materials to be stable.
However, with graphene, physicists can now study a new class of two-dimensional materials with unique properties. Graphene makes experiments possible that give new twists to the phenomena in quantum physics. Also a vast variety of practical applications now appear possible including the creation of new materials and the manufacture of innovative electronics.
Graphene transistors are predicted to be substantially faster than today’s silicon transistors and result in more efficient computers.
Since it is practically transparent and a good conductor, graphene is suitable for producing transparent touch screens, light panels, and maybe even solar cells. When mixed into plastics, graphene can turn them into conductors of electricity while making them more heat resistant and mechanically robust. This resilience can be utilised in new super strong materials, which are also thin, elastic and lightweight. In the future, satellites, airplanes, and cars could be manufactured out of the new composite materials.

Nobel prize for medicine

Robert Edwards

British physiologist Robert Edwards, whose work led to the first “test-tube baby”, won the 2010 Nobel prize for medicine or physiology. Edwards, 85, won the prize of 10 million Swedish crowns. ”His achievements have made it possible to treat infertility, a medical condition afflicting a large proportion of humanity including more than 10 percent of all couples worldwide,” the institute said in a statement. 
Robert Edwards began his work in 1955. By 1968 he was able to achieve fertilization of the human egg in the laboratory and started to collaborate with Patrick Steptoe. Edwards developed human culture media to allow the fertilization and early embryo culture, while Steptoe utilized laparoscopy to recover ovocytes from patients with tubal infertility. 
Edwards pioneered a field that has touched millions of lives, as infertility afflicts more than 3.5 percent of the world population. He and his colleague Patrick Steptoe, who died in 1988, marched forward against tremendous opposition from churches, governments, and the media, as well as intense scepticism from scientific colleagues. As a result of their efforts, well over 4 million babies have been born to parents who otherwise would have failed to conceive children. 
The birth of Louise Brown, the first “ test tube baby” in July 1978 heralded the beginning of a new field of medicine. Because medical practitioners can now inject a single sperm into an egg, infertile men as well as infertile women can have children. 
Robert Geoffrey Edwards was born in September 1925. After finishing Manchester Central High School, he served at the University College of North Wales (UCNW) in Bangor, but soon realized that he was interested not so much in plants but rather in animal reproduction and transferred to the Department of Zoology and received his B.Sc. in 1951 from UCNW; in 1962 the same institution offered him the degree of DSc. 
He received his Ph.D. in 1955. In 1963 he joined Cambridge University. In 1968 he attended a lecture at the Royal Society of Medicine in London given by Patrick Steptoe, a gynaecologist, describing laparoscopy, a surgical technique that could give access to the ovaries, enabling the retrieval of eggs in order to be fertilized in vitro. Their collaboration started in 1968 and 10 years later Louise Brown was born. 
Edwards co-founded one of the first IVF clinics in the world at Bourn Hall, Cambridge in 1980. That same year, one “test tube baby” was born in the United States. In 1990, the number rose to 4,000 in the US, and in 1998, it reached 28,500. In 2001 he was awarded the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award by the Lasker Foundation “for the development of in vitro fertilization. 

2010 Nobel Prize in chemistry

American Richard Heck and Japanese researchers Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki won the 2010 Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing a chemical method that has allowed scientists to make medicines and better electronics. 
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the award honours their development of palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic systems. The academy called that one of the most sophisticated tools available to chemists today, and one that is used by researchers worldwide and in commercial production of pharmaceuticals and molecules used to make electronics. 
Heck, 79, is a professor emeritus at the University of Delaware. Negishi, 75, is a chemistry professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and 80-year-old Suzuki is a professor at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan. Officials at Hokkaido University were delighted by the news. 
The method has been used to artificially produce discodermolide, a cancer-killing substance first found in marine sponges, the academy said in its citation. It added that no cancer drug based on the substance has been developed yet. 

2010 Nobel Prize in literature

Mario Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian, one of the most acclaimed writers in the Spanish-speaking world, won the 2010 Nobel Prize in literature. 
The Swedish Academy said it honored the 74-year-old author “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat.” 
Vargas Llosa has written more than 30 novels, plays and essays, including “Conversation in the Cathedral” and “The Green House.” In 1995, he was awarded the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world’s most distinguished literary honor. 
His international breakthrough came with the 1960s novel “The Time of The Hero.” Vargas Llosa is the first South American winner of the prestigious Nobel Prize in literature since it was awarded to Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1982. 

2010 Nobel Peace Prize

Imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China” — a prize likely to enrage the Chinese Government, which warned the Nobel committee not to hono ur him. 
The Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman, Mr Thorbjoern Jagland, said Mr Liu Xiaobo was a symbol for the fight for human rights in China. “China has become a big power in economic terms as well as political terms, and it is normal that big powers should be under criticism,” Mr Jagland said. 
It was the first Nobel for the Chinese dissident community since it resurfaced after the country’s communist leadership launched economic, but not political reforms three decades ago. The win could jolt a current debate among the leadership and the elite over whether China should begin democratic reforms and if so how quickly. Unlike some in China’s highly fractured and persecuted dissident community, Mr Liu has been an ardent advocate for peaceful, gradual political change, rather than a violent confrontation with the government.

2010 Nobel economics prize

Two Americans and a British-Cypriot economist won the 2010 Nobel economics prize for developing a theory that helps explain why many people can remain unemployed despite a large number of job vacancies. 
Federal Reserve board nominee Peter Diamond was honoured along with Dale Mortensen and Christopher Pissarides with the 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.5 million) prize for their analysis of the obstacles that prevent buyers and sellers from efficiently pairing up in markets. 
Mr. Diamond — a former mentor to current Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke — analysed the foundations of so-called search markets, while Mr. Mortensen and Mr. Pissarides expanded the theory and applied it to the labour market. 
Since searching for jobs takes time and resources, it creates frictions in the job market, helping explain why there are both job vacancies and unemployment simultaneously, the academy said. 
Mr. Diamond, 70, is an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an authority on Social Security, pensions and taxation. 
President Barack Obama has nominated Mr. Diamond to become a member of the Federal Reserve. However, the Senate failed to approve his nomination before lawmakers left to campaign for the midterm congressional elections. 
Mr. Bernanke was one of Mr. Diamond’s students at MIT. When Mr. Bernanke turned in his doctoral dissertation back in 1979, one of the people he thanked was Mr. Diamond for being generous with his time and reading and discussing Mr. Bernanke’s work. 
Mr. Pissarides, a 62-year-old professor at the London School of Economics, told The Associated Press that the win was “a complete surprise“. 

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