Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Nobel Prizes: 2014

First is the prize in physics.
Article: Nobel Prize for physics goes to inventors of low-energy LED light

Three researchers figured out how to make a blue LED. Red and green LED's have been around for a while. However, to make white light, a blue LED was needed.

Their discovery allowed the manufacture of true white LED bulbs producing a long-lasting and efficient light bulb. They are more expensive than the incandescent bulbs that they are replacing.

This Nobel prize is unusual, because it is in a practical, rather than a theoretical, field.

Then, the prize in medicine (3 takes on the prize)
Article: Nobel Prize for medicine goes to discoverers of brain’s 'inner GPS'
John Stein, an emeritus professor of physiology at Oxford said that, as with so many Nobel Prize winners, the scientists' discovery was at first ridiculed and dismissed, only later to get the recognition it warrants.
Other takes on the same prize-winning research.
Article: Nobel discovery opens window onto Alzheimer's disease

Article: Norwegian couple joins elite few awarded Nobel Prize together

Finally, the prize in chemistry.
Article: Nobel Prize for seeing how life works at molecular level
Scientists, who have been looking down microscopes since the 17th century, had long thought there was a limit to what could be seen. In 1873, Ernst Abbe stipulated that resolution could never be better than 0.2 micrometers, or around 500 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
But the three Nobel winners bypassed this limit by tagging objects with fluorescent markers and scanning them to build up a far more detailed images. Today, such "nanoscopy" is used widely to visualize the internal molecular machinery of cells.
Modern nanoscale microscopes can follow protein interactions involved in diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and cancer, or watch the transcription and translation of DNA to make proteins, or track the development of fertilized eggs as they divide and become embryos.
And now, Nobel laureates using their prestige for (mostly) political purposes. 
Article: Nobel laureates call for a revolutionary shift in how humans use resources

Every few years, the neo-Malthusians announce that the "end is near." It used to be religious cults that did this.

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