2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded

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Today, the Nobel Prize committee announced that three scientist from the U.S. have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The recipients were Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel. Karplus is a professor at the Universite de Strasbourg in France, and Harvard University. Levitt is a professor in cancer research at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Warshel is a distinguished professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

The three researchers have pioneered innovation in chemistry through the technological feats of cyberspace. More specifically, they were awarded the prize for their work in the creation of computer models that displayed complicated chemical processes.

The processes that they have been able to simulate would otherwise go unseen due to the speed at which chemical reactions occur.

A press release from the Nobel Foundation stated, “The work of Karplus, Levitt and Warshel is groundbreaking in that they managed to make Newton’s classical physics work side-by-side with the fundamentally different quantum physics. Previously chemists had to choose to use either or.” In the release, the foundation also said, “Previously, classical physics and quantum chemistry belonged to rivaling worlds. The Nobel Laureates in Chemistry 2013 have opened a gate between those worlds and have brought about a flourishing collaboration."

The three scientists began their work in the 1970s and have since made great gains which led to their awarding of this top honor. Since creating the computer models that made it possible to view these chemical processes, their work has been used in many academic institutions and laboratories to further studies. Their computer models have also made it possible to predict and understand how chemical reactions occur with an extremely high degree of accuracy. Their research in this field has also led to the design of new drugs.

According to the New York Times, the scientists were all born abroad but have since become naturalized American citizens. “Dr. Karplus, born in Austria, is also an Austrian citizen. Dr. Levitt, who was born in South Africa, also holds British and Israeli citizenships; and Dr. Warshel, born in Israel, is also an Israeli citizen.”

Not only does this award come with the infinite recognition of their contributions to science, it also highlights their contributions to mankind. Karplus, Levitt and Warshel will also receive a monetary reward of SEK 8 million (1.2 million U.S. dollars) shared between the three of them.

Images courtesy of Nobel Media AB and Wikimedia Commons.

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