18.08.2022

Nobel Prize: who won in 2017

The Nobel committee selected the most important discoveries, research and processes. All the 2017 Nobel Prize winners, one of the most prestigious awards in the world, have been announced.

The Nobel Prize is awarded in the fields of literature, physics, medicine, chemistry and for contributions to world peace. Since 1969, the unofficial Nobel Prize in Economics has been awarded.

The awards are held annually on December 10th. In Stockholm, prizes are awarded in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and economics, and in Oslo in the field of peace.

Nobel Prize in Medicine: The biological clock

The Physiology or Medicine Prize went to Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael Young for their work on biological rhythms.

“For the discovery of the molecular mechanisms that control circadian rhythms,” – the Nobel Committee says. Circadian rhythms are cyclical fluctuations in the intensity of various biological processes associated with the change of day and night.

It has long been known that every organism has a so-called biological clock. The study of this phenomenon began in the 18th century. The study of internal clocks has become a completely independent branch of science, which is called chronobiology.

The award winners examined fruit flies. They managed to find in them a gene that controls biological rhythms.

Scientists have found that this gene encodes a protein that accumulates in cells during the night and is destroyed during the day.

The genes that determine the work of the biological clock were discovered back in the 1980s and 90s. These are called period (the protein that it produces is called PER), timeless (the TIM protein), and doubletime (the DBT protein).

Hall, Rosbash and Young are credited with identifying these genes and analyzing how they work in fruit flies. Thus, scientists figured out how the biological clock of these flies is arranged – that is, how genes determine their behavior during the day.

Subsequently, they identified other elements responsible for the self-regulation of the “cell clock” and proved that the biological clock works in a similar way in other multicellular organisms, including humans.

The internal clock is responsible for sleep cycles, blood pressure, hormone levels, and body temperature. They affect all life on earth from unicellular cyanobacteria to higher vertebrates.

What’s the use? There are people whose biological clock is disrupted due to mutations in some genes. For example, they want to sleep by seven in the evening and wake up at three or four in the morning. If they cannot afford to sleep at this particular time, then this leads to lack of sleep and all the negative consequences arising from this.

In addition, due to the knowledge of the mechanisms, it is possible to identify periods when certain drugs are more effective and at the same time cause fewer adverse reactions.

Note that people who work the night shift are more likely to develop myocardial infarction, stroke, obesity, and diabetes mellitus.

Theoretically, thanks to this knowledge, it is possible to create drugs to correct cycles and help people who have to stay awake at a time when the body needs sleep.

Nobel Prize in Physics: Gravitational Waves

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to the creators of the international collaboration LIGO, thanks to which the first gravitational waves predicted by scientist Albert Einstein 100 years ago were discovered.

Dr. Rainer Weiss, Dr. Kip Thorne and Dr. Barry Barish and colleagues have been working on their project for several decades. Thousands of people across five continents were involved in the 2015 discovery.

About a billion years ago, at a distance of 1.3 billion light-years from Earth, two black holes weighing 36 and 29 solar masses circled one another, gradually converging under the influence of mutual gravity, until they collided and merged together.

As a result of such a collision, a colossal release of energy occurred – in a fraction of a second, about three solar masses turned into gravitational waves, the maximum radiation power of which was about 50 times greater than from the entire visible Universe.

The convergence, collision and merger of two black holes threw the surrounding space-time continuum into disarray and sent powerful gravitational waves in all directions at the speed of light.

By the time these waves reached our Earth (and it was on the morning of September 14, 2015), the once powerful roar of cosmic proportions turned into a barely audible whisper.

However, two several kilometers long detector of the Laser Interferometric Observatory of gravitational waves recorded easily recognizable traces of these waves.

The discovery of gravitational waves confirmed Albert Einstein’s 1915 prediction of general relativity.

In the scientific community, they say that in comparison with the awards of recent years, this is one of the most deserved awards, because it is a fundamental discovery that has been awaited for 100 years.

You can listen to gravitational waves:

What’s the use? Before the registration of gravitational waves, scientists knew about the behavior of gravity only by the example of celestial mechanics, the interaction of celestial bodies. But it was clear that the gravitational field has waves and space-time can deform in a similar way.

The fact that we had not seen gravitational waves before was a blind spot in modern physics. Now this white spot has been closed, another brick has been laid at the foundation of modern physical theory. This is a fundamental discovery. There has been nothing comparable in recent years.

After further development of technology, it will be possible to talk about gravitational astronomy – about observing the traces of the most high-energy events in the Universe.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Cryoelectron Microscopy

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded for the development of high-resolution cryoelectron microscopy for the determination of the structures of biomolecules in solutions.

Laureates were Jacques Dubochet of the University of Lausanne, Joachim Frank of Columbia University and Richard Henderson of the University of Cambridge.

Cryoelectron microscopy is a form of transmission electron microscopy in which a sample is examined at cryogenic temperatures.

The method is popular in structural biology, as it allows you to observe samples that have not been stained or fixed in any way, showing them in their native environment.

Electron cryomicroscopy slows down the movement of the atoms entering the molecule, which makes it possible to obtain very clear images of its structure.

The information obtained about the structure of molecules is extremely important, including for a deeper understanding of chemistry and the development of pharmaceuticals.

Cryoelectronic image of GroEL proteins suspended in amorphous ice at a magnification of 50,000 times

As noted in a press release from the Nobel Committee, research by scientists is helping to improve and simplify the visualization of biomolecules. Cryoelectron microscopy, developed by scientists, “has moved biochemistry into a new era.”

“Scientific breakthroughs are often built on the successful visualization of objects invisible to the human eye. However,” biochemical maps “have long remained empty. Cryoelectron microscopy is changing this situation,” the Nobel Committee explains its decision.

The arrangement of atoms in molecules: a) the protein responsible for the “biological clock”; b) a pressure gauge that is used in the hearing organs; c) Zika virus

What’s the use?  It is extremely important to know the structure of a protein, since the mechanism of its action is fundamental, because a person, like all creatures on Earth, is a protein form of life.

With the help of the knowledge that cryoelectron microscopy gives, it is possible to create drugs that interact with proteins and modify their activity.

It is also possible to come up with proteins with new functions that humans have not yet learned how to create, since there is no knowledge of exactly how different proteins work.

The two main industries in which this knowledge will come in handy are biotechnology and medicine. This is one of the steps, including, towards the creation of a drug against cancer.

Nobel Prize in Literature: The Illusion of Connection with the World

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the Japanese-born British writer Kazuo Ishiguro, the winner of numerous literary awards, a popular and recognized master.

“In his novels of incredible emotional power, he exposes the abyss hidden behind our illusory sense of connection with the world,” the Nobel Committee explained.

As critics note, he received the Nobel Prize as one of the most famous, respected, read and discussed prose writers of our time and one should not look for political connotations here.

Kazuo Ishiguro

All of Ishiguro’s books explore the topic of collective and individual memory to varying degrees.

Ishiguro came to great success with the novel Remains of a Day in 1989, dedicated to the fate of a former butler who served a noble house all his life.

For this novel, Ishiguro received the Booker Prize, and the jury voted unanimously, which is unprecedented for this award.

He supported the fame of the writer a lot and the release in 2010 of the film on the dystopia Don’t Let Me Go, which takes place in an alternative Britain of the late 20th century, where children who donate organs for cloning are raised in a special boarding school. The film stars Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan. In 2005, this novel was included in the list of the 100 best according to the version of Time magazine.

Still from the movie Don’t Let Me Go

In addition to them, the novel The White Countess was also filmed.

Kazuo’s latest novel, The Buried Giant, published in 2015, is considered one of his strangest and most daring novels.

This is a medieval fantasy novel in which the journey of an elderly couple to a neighboring village to visit their son becomes a road to their own memories. On the way, the spouses defend themselves from dragons, ogres and other mythological monsters.

British and American critics point out that Ishiguro (who calls himself not Japanese, but British) has done a lot to turn English into the universal language of world literature. Ishiguro’s novels have been translated into over 40 languages.

Nobel Peace Prize: Fighting Nuclear Weapons

International Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize.

“The organization receives an award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, as well as for its innovative ideas to achieve a treaty-based ban on such weapons,” the Nobel Committee said.

Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, noted that now the threat of the use of nuclear weapons is at the highest level in a long time.

“Some countries are modernizing their existing nuclear arsenals, while others are looking for ways to acquire nuclear weapons, of which the DPRK is a prime example,” she said.

ICAN protest near the American Embassy in Berlin

Now in the world there is no full-fledged ban on nuclear weapons, in contrast to the ban on chemical and biological weapons, said Reiss-Andersen.

“Through its work, ICAN helps to fill the legal vacuum in this area,” Reiss-Andersen said, recalling the main brainchild of ICAN – the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, approved at the UN General Assembly in July this year and opened for signing by the countries since September 20.

53 countries have signed the treaty, but none of them possess nuclear weapons.

The main organizer of the campaign was the organization Doctors of the World for the Prevention of Nuclear War, created by Soviet and American scientists in 1980 and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.

ICAN consists of 468 organizations in 101 countries. ICAN is headquartered in Geneva. Beatrice Fin from Sweden has been the executive director of the organization since July 2014, before that she was an ICAN delegate from the International Women’s League for Peace and Freedom.

Nobel Prize in Economics: Behavioral Economics

American Richard Thaler was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics “for his contribution to the study of behavioral economics.”

Behavioral economics studies the influence of social, cognitive and emotional factors on economic decision-making by individuals and institutions and the consequences of these influences on markets.

Simply put, it is a discipline that studies irrational human behavior.

Experts in behavioral economics are interested not only in the phenomena occurring in the market, but also in the processes of collective choice, which also contain elements of cognitive errors and selfishness when making decisions by economic agents.

People don’t always make rational decisions when it comes to economics. Despite the fact that the optimal result can often be calculated, something makes a person do not, as, at first glance, is most profitable.

Psychological and social factors affect prices, resource allocation, and so on. Behavioral economics deals with these phenomena.

This economics “with a human face” aims to improve the predictive capabilities of economic theory by rethinking its premises.

This approach, in particular, required the abandonment of the neoclassical interpretation of rationality as maximizing income, but not abandoning rationality as a principle of maximizing one’s own utility.

Utility can bring not only money, but also feelings, which, along with material interests, can be taken into account in the generalized utility function.

Thus, one of the key works in behavioral economics devoted to measuring true, or “experienced” utility, is called Return to Bentham.

Economists have found that people, it turns out, work very selectively with information (the accessibility heuristic), in particular, they are subject to the influence of the crowd (information cascades), tend to exaggerate their own predictive abilities (the phenomenon of overconfidence), poorly understand the relationship between different phenomena (regression to the mean) , and their declared preferences can be distorted by changing only the form of the problem presentation, but not the problem itself (the framing effect).

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman, with whom Thaler worked together, is considered one of the founders of behavioral economics.

In 2002, Kahneman received the Nobel Prize in Economics with the formulation “for the application of psychological methods in economics, especially in the study of the formation of judgments and decision-making under conditions of uncertainty.”

Kahneman shared the 2002 Nobel Prize with Vernon Smith, considered one of the founders of experimental economics.

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