October 9, 2013

Nobel Prize Winners - 2013 - Current Affairs for UPSC, APPSC, IBPS & Bank PO Exams

NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY: The chemistry prize was given to three U.S.-based scientists
  1. Martin Karplus of the University of Strasbourg, France, and Harvard University;
  2. Michael Levitt of the Stanford University School of Medicine, and
  3. Arieh Warshel of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles

What they did? Developed computer models that analyze and predict complex chemical reactions, which is useful for tasks like creating medicines. The approach combines classical physics and quantum physics
NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS: Peter Higgs of Britain and Francois Englert of Belgium. The physics prize was awarded for a theory about how subatomic particles that are the building blocks of matter get their mass. The theory made headlines last year when it was confirmed by the discovery of the Higgs particle, which originates from an invisible field that gives particles mass. This theoretical understanding is a central part of the so-called Standard Model, which describes the physics of how the world is constructed.
The medicine prize, the first of the 2013 awards to be announced, honoured breakthroughs in understanding how key substances are moved around within a cell. That process happens through vesicles, tiny bubbles that deliver their cargo within a cell to the right place at the right time. Disturbances in the delivery system can lead to neurological diseases, diabetes or immunological disorders. The prize was shared by Americans James E. Rothman and Randy W. Schekman, Berkeley; and German-American Dr. Thomas C. Sudhof  for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells. This represents a paradigm shift in our understanding of how the eukaryotic cell, with its complex internal compartmentalisation, organises the routing of molecules packaged in vesicles to various intracellular destinations, as well as to the outside of the cell.

Specificity in the delivery of molecular cargo is essential for cell function and survival. This specificity is required for the release of neurotransmitters into the presynaptic region of a nerve cell to transmit a signal to a neighbouring nerve cell. Likewise, specificity is required for the export of hormones such as insulin to the cell surface.

While vesicles within the cell were long known to be critical components of this transportation scheme, the precise mechanism by which these vesicles found their correct destination and how they fused with organelles or the plasma membrane to deliver the cargo remained mysterious. The work of the three 2013 Laureates radically altered our understanding of this aspect of cell physiology.

Eukaryotic cells differ from prokaryotic cells by their more complex intracellular organisation. Distinct cellular processes are compartmentalised. This improves efficiency but a problem emerges. Different compartments need to exchange specific molecules and certain molecules need to be exported to the cell exterior. Since most molecules are too large to directly pass through membranes, a mechanism is required to deliver the cargo.

2013 Nobel literature prize:Canada's Alice Munro won the Nobel literature prize for her short stories that focus on the frailties of the human condition, becoming just the 13th woman to win in the history of the coveted award.

Nobel Peace Prize 2013: Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
The OPCW is charged with overseeing the destruction of Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons, following the atrocity – widely blamed on the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The Norwegian Nobel committee hailed the global chemical watchdog for creating “the chance to eliminate a whole category of deadly weapons”.

WHAT'S NEXT? This year's Nobel season ends with the economics award on 14/10/2013.


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