Category Archives: Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2014

The Nobel Prizein Physiology or Medicine 2014 is awarded for discovering how the brain navigates our way – our inner “GPS” system in the brain. The prize goes to J. O’Keefe (UCL, UK) and E. Moser and M.B. Moser (University of Trondheim, Norway).


Happy Halloween! (with a fullerene twist)

(Image by Fabiola Barrios Landeros, carved by Ivan Tubert Brohman)

The 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been won by Harold W. Kroto, Robert F. Curl and Richard E. Smalley for their discovery in 1985 of a new form of carbon, in which the atoms are arranged in hollow spheres like this pumpkin! The new form was named Buckminsterfullerene, after the architect Buckminster Fuller who designed geodesic domes in the 1960’s.

A fullerene is any molecule composed entirely of carbon, in the form of a hollow sphere, ellipsoid or tube. Spherical fullerenes are also called buckyballs, and they resemble the balls used in soccer. Cylindrical ones are called carbon nanotubes or buckytubes.

Structure of a fullerene. (Source: Wikipedia)
Carbon nanotube. Click on the image for an animation. (Image by Evi Gkeka)

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2012… explained

The Nobel prize in Physics 2012 was jointly awarded yesterday to Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland “for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems”.

Haroche and Wineland showed with real experiments of photons that it is possible for a quantum system to exist in two states at the same time. Originally, this was proposed by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schroedinger (Nobel Prize in Physics, 1933) within the quantum theory framework. The fact that a photon or an atom can exist in two states at the same time can have practical applications in life, i.e. in the quantum computer. Today’s computers store information in bits, which can have the value of 0 or 1 only. In quantum computing, a bit can exist in 0 and 1 at the same time (qubit), allowing for parallel computations at astronomical speeds. The quantum computer might revolutionize our lives the way computer have changed the way we live in the past century.

Celebrating Marie Curie

7 November 2011 is a special day for Chemistry. It marks the 144th anniversary of Marie Curie’s birthday; 2011 has been designated as the International Year of Chemistry (IYC) by IUPAC and UNESC.

And there’s even more: The IYC 2011 coincides with the 100th anniversary of Marie Curie’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry. France and Poland declared 2011 to be the Year of Marie Curie. To recognise her achievements, Marie Curie has been chosen as the symbol for this year’s 2011 IYC – to celebrate it Google has dedicated today its search page to Marie Curie.

Marie Curie is shown by Google at her work bench – indeed she is known for her vigorous passion for science, her hard work that led her to claim two Nobel prizes, and her enormous contributions to Chemistry and the fight against cancer. Her legacy is lived on in several academic institutions and charities such as the Marie Curie Cancer Care. Below are important facts about the “most inspirational woman in science”:

  • Marie Sklodowska Curie was born on 7 November 1867 in Warsaw.
  • She was awarded the 1903 Nobel prize in Physics, together with husband Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel for her “researches on the radiation phenomena”.
  • On 8 Nov. 1911, she was awarded the 1911 Nobel prize in Chemistry for “the discovery of radium and polonium, the isolation of radium and the study of radium’s nature and compounds”.
  • In 1906 she became the first female Sorbonne Professor.

    Picture taken from

  • She is the first of only two people ever to win the Nobel prize in multiple fields. She was also the first woman ever to win the Nobel Prize.
  • Curie promoted the use of the radioactivity for therapeutic purposes.
  • In 1914 she helped develop small, mobile X-ray units and joined the war front with her 17-year old daughter Irene to help wounded soldierslocate fractures, bullets, and shrapnel.
  • Her daughter Irene won the 1935 chemistry Nobel for her work on artificial radioactivity.
  • She founded the Curie Institutes in France and Poland, co-founded the Warsaw Radium Institute, and headed the Pasteur Institute.

Curie helped forever change how the world perceived women in science and set a shining example for the future generations of scientists in that rigorous and determined investigation can lead to remarkable discoveries.

7 November is also a very special day for me as it is also my own birthday. I am unbelievably honored to share a birthday with a female chemist of this caliber. I am continuously inspired by her lifelong dedication and contributions to science. As she very well put it:

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
Marie Curie

The biography of Marie Curie was written by her daughter, Eve Curie. From

This biography chronicles Curie’s legendary achievements in science, including her pioneering efforts in the study of radioactivity and her two Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry. It also spotlights her remarkable life, from her childhood in Poland, to her storybook Parisian marriage to fellow scientist Pierre Curie, to her tragic death from the very radium that brought her fame.

Below are some of the many events with which the IYC2011 has honored Marie Curie:

  • A Marie Curie inspired poster exhibition was held at the Research Centre for Materials Science, Nagoya University (July 21st -Aug 31st 2011) in collaboration with The Curie Museum and Curie Institute.
  • To celebrate her achievements, a re-enactment play inspired by the life of Marie Curie was performed at the IUPAC World Chemistry Congress in San Juan Puerto Rico by professional actress, Susan Frontczak, which was followed by the award ceremony for the 23 Distinguished Women in Chemistry/Chemical Engineering (August 2nd 2011)
  • The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, CA is producing the world premiere of Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie (Nov.1 through Dec. 11, 2011).
  • Marie Curie on Stamps Exhibition @ Postalia, Québec city 
  • 25 November 2011- MSC-100 closing celebration to be held at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
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