Nobel Week 2020

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Nobel Week 2020

Postby Arneb » Mon Oct 05, 2020 12:18 pm

Monday: Physiology or Medicine

To: Harvey J. Alter (U.S.), Michael Houghton (UK) and Charles M. Rice (U.S.)

For: The discovery of Hepatitis C virus.

I love this one. When I started studying in '88, there was this huge miscellanous "non-A-Non-B hepatitis" bin where more than half of chronic hepatitis cases went and for which the best available treatment was going off the booze and pray. In those 30 years, we've gone from We Don't Know What's Up, But You'll Possibly Die - Don't Whine, There Are Tens of Millions Like You, to a disease that can be cured with three months of treatment. And I do mean cured, not controlled, and managed as in the case of Hep B or HIV. As in, not a single virus copy anymore anywhere in the body. It is one of the most amazing success stories in medicine over the last half century, I'd say.
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Heid the Ba » Tue Oct 06, 2020 12:22 pm

Well done those people.
Get it up ye.
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Arneb » Tue Oct 06, 2020 3:56 pm

Tuesday: Physics

To: Roger Penrose (UK, working in LA, 50%), 25 % each to Andrea Ghez (US) and Reinhard Genzel (Germany)

For:
The description of black holes as physical entities (as opposed to arcane theroretical solutions to equations), objects that should be frequently found in space and looked for (Penrose)
The discovery and charaterization of the supermassive black hole in the center of our own galaxy (Ghez, Genzel)

I love astonomical Nobels, as you can imagine. And it's the second one in a row (exoplanets was last year's theme). Ghez should be a household figure if you are into astronomy documentaries. She is the go-to person for stories on black holes, super smart yet likeable, with a wild hairdo, a sonorous voice and a quick smile. Genzel is in many ways her competitor (they lead different groups working on the same subject), and being der Direktor des Max-Planck-Insituts für extraterrestrische Physik in Garching, he is probably not a household name for you, cuz English or it didn't happen.

Penrose, of course, is a mathematical giant. I f I got this correctly, much of his work in the sixties that showed that black holes are inescapable endpoints in the development of massive stars that should be found basically everywhere you looked was done together with Stephen Hwaking. I susupect were Hawking still alive, it would have benn Hawking and Penrose plus Ghez.
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Мастер » Tue Oct 06, 2020 4:43 pm

Huh. I think I was assuming Penrose had one already . . .
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Arneb » Wed Oct 07, 2020 11:18 am

Wednesday: Chemistry

To: Emmanuelle Charpentier (France, working in Germany) and Jennifer A. Doudna (U.S.A.)

For: The development of the Crispr/Cas9 gene "scissor" system allowing for targeted, highly accurate genome modification - including germline manipulation.

There is no biology Nobel, so groundbreaking progress in the life sciences often has to be diverted either into "Medicine and Physiology" or "Chemistry". The Chemistry Nobels on the one hand include Marie Curie's prize for the discovery of Radium and Polonium (which might be considered rather physcs-y) , but on the other, it is often repurposed as a life sciences award with more "bio" than "chemical" in "biochemical".

This year is a prime example: The Crispr enzyme comes from a human-pathogenic bacterium streptococcus pyogenes, the agent that causes "classic" strep and scarlet fever. The target of the gene "scissor" system that the two scientists developed is muliticellular organisms, so the relation to chemistry is a bit tenuous.

I like this one as well, because it is a courageous decision: Crispr/Cas 9 is the first time humans can reliably, precisely and accurately manipulate genetic information of whole eukaryotic multicellular organisms, including themselves, includign the so-called germline. It's the first time we have power over our own heredity, and it opens the door to unheard-of ethical conondra. To reward the discovery with a Nobel is to highlight the importance of this step. The prize, in the word of nobel's will, is "for those who brought the greatest benefit to humanity in the past year". It's saying to humanity, this what you can do, put it to humanity's benefit.

More on Crispr/Cas9, in an exquisite musical garment, can be found here, along with further information. The song tells you how it all works AND why this new instrument may be a two-edged sword. Enjoy.
Watch on youtube.com
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Arneb » Thu Oct 08, 2020 11:18 am

Thursday: Literature

To: Louise Glück, American poet, essayist, author.
For: "Her unmistakeable poetic voices, which, in unadorned beauty, finds the universal in the existence of the individual" (My translation from German, which was translated from Swedish).

I don't know anything by her, but speedgoogling turned up this nice quote:
"We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory."

Yeah, she is obviously into psychoanalysis. But it sounds like a nice read.
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Мастер » Thu Oct 08, 2020 12:21 pm

Louise im Glück
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Arneb » Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:03 am

:D

Friday: Peace
To: The UN World Food Program
For: Being, well, the World Food Program.

Kind of an obvious one, but maybe too obvious: It's a bit tepid on political message, if you ask me, to Nobel Prize something for just doing what it was created to do. But these days, honouring multilateral international cooperation and help maybe is a strong political message in itself.
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Lance » Sat Oct 10, 2020 4:58 am

It should go to Trump. After all, the world is still here and 4 years ago there were doubts.
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Lianachan » Sat Oct 10, 2020 11:26 am

Yeah, I was thinking that Trump hasn’t actually started any wars yet so it should go to him.
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Мастер » Sat Oct 10, 2020 12:48 pm

I haven’t started any wars.

OK, maybe a few flame wars, but so has Trump.
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Lance » Sat Oct 10, 2020 2:41 pm

But you don't have the ability to get mad and nuke Mongolia.
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Lianachan » Sat Oct 10, 2020 4:48 pm

..... as far as we know.

8)
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Lance » Sat Oct 10, 2020 9:50 pm

Fair point!
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Blue Monster 65 » Sun Oct 11, 2020 1:40 pm

Lance wrote:But you don't have the ability to get mad and nuke Mongolia.


Oh, you foolish, foolish man. You should thank your lucky stars Macrep has patience with you ... or perhaps you should start watching over your shoulder ...
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Мастер » Sun Oct 11, 2020 2:14 pm

Blue Monster 65 wrote:Oh, you foolish, foolish man. You should thank your lucky stars Macrep has patience with you ... or perhaps you should start watching over your shoulder ...


I used to live in the next town over from LLance, although we did not know each other at the time.
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Enzo » Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:27 pm

The town that is now a mere memory that glows in the dark?
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Blue Monster 65 » Sun Oct 11, 2020 9:02 pm

Мастер wrote:I used to live in the next town over from LLance, although we did not know each other at the time.


You really get around ... like the girls Enzo used to date!

Erm ... no offense to Wenzo ... he wised up when he met her! (That oughta save my bacon for a bit ... )
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Enzo » Mon Oct 12, 2020 4:24 am

I was part of an elite group that never got any...


In act this morning at Big Boy breakfast, a server brought me my eggs and bacon, and I complained, "Hey I ordered lobster." She said, "Um, we ran out of tails." Even though it was 9AM, I said "Oh darn, I never get any tail."

They didn't tell me to leave, so I guess we are OK for next week.
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Re: Nobel Week 2020

Postby Blue Monster 65 » Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:09 pm

I hope you tipped well!
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