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The Nobel Prize Committee has officially announced its recipients for the Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, Physics and Medicine or Physiology.

The Nobel Prizes were established by Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel in 1895, and are recognised as one of the highest accolades in science, literature and peace.

This year, two of the prizes have been split between different recipients, with one recipient for the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology.

Nobel Prize in Physics

The joint recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2016 are the team of David J, Thouless, F. Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz, who were awarded the prize for “theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.”

Their discoveries reveal a possibility where matter can take on different states. Using advanced mathematics, the trio examined weird states of matter such as superfluids, which due to lack of friction means its particles can act as one super particle.

Liquid Helium in a superfluid state. source: wikimedia.commons
Liquid Helium in a superfluid state. source: wikimedia.commons

Their work included examples of strange behaviours such as superfluid vortexes that can continue to spin indefinitely without slowing down.

Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology

Japan-born scientist Yoshinori Ohsumi is the recipient of the Nobel in Medicine or Physiology, with his illustration of the cellular process autophagy in yeast cells, where cells essentially eat themselves by taking uneeded or damaged material and transport them to a recycling compartment.

600px-s_cerevisiae_under_dic_microscopy
Yeast cells under microscopy. source: wikimedia.commons

Ohsumi discovered how to observe the inner workings of yeast cells and reveal autophagy, and has even gone so ar to identify the genes involved in yeat autophagy. His discoveries have played much importance in understanding how cells recycle their contents, which has helped further understanding surrounding several physiological processes and even to understanding diseases such as cancer.

 

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa were jointly awarded the Nobel in Chemistry. Their work, investigating the design and synthesis of molecular machines, allowed the trio to develop the worlds smallest machines, thinner than a strand of hair, which are capable of working as lifts, mini motors and artificial muscles.

Molecule. source: pixabay.com
Molecule. source: pixabay.com

Their discoveries are likely to be used in the development of new materials, sensors and energy storage systems, and are a result of the ability of the trio to develop these machines by linking molecules into a unit where energy can be added.

 

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