The 2021 Nobel Prizes in Science

The 2021 Nobel Prizes for science have been awarded in the fields of Medicine, Chemistry and Physics. The prizes, founded in accordance with the will of Sir Alfred Nobel in 1895, are some of the most prestigious prizes available in the aforementioned fields.  

The Nobel prize for Medicine this year has been awarded to two scientists for their work on identifying receptors for understanding touch and temperature in humans. David Julius and Ardem Patapoutiam worked on the gene TRPV1, which respond to heat, and the discovery of two ion channels in the skin responding to touch, respectively. Their discoveries in explaining how humans have the urge to pull a hand from a hot flame and distinguish between textures have been hailed by members of the Nobel committee as “profoundly changing our view of how we sense the world”.  

In Chemistry, the Nobel committee awarded Benjamin List and David W.C MacMillan with the prize for their research into asymmetric organocatalysis. These new catalysts can help in the production of pharmaceuticals and solar cells and are often cheaper and more environmentally friendly than other types of catalysts. They are able to produce more specific molecules than other types of metal and enzyme-based catalysts. 

The Physics prize was awarded in two parts to Syukuro Manabe and Klauss Hasselman for their work on physical modelling and research on the earth’s climate, and another to Giorgio Parisi for his work on disordered complex systems and being able to understand them in a mathematical sense. Manabe’s and Hasselmans’ work on 3-dimensional models and atmospheric markers has been instrumental in helping understand rising carbon dioxide levels. Parisi’s work on hidden patterns in complex systems of gas molecules has enabled new discoveries in fields as far-reaching as biology and machine learning.    

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George Barsted

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November 2021
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