The Most Important Moment for Every Scientist

Written by Alexander Schebesch

Every year, the smartest and the most creative people around the world gather for the Nobel Prize ceremony in hopes of being able to proudly call themselves afterwards a Nobel Prize winner, feeling like a movie star winning an Oscar. Although the Nobel Prizes will only be given officially on December 10th, which is the day Alfred Nobel (the founder and person behind the Nobel Prize) passed away, we have been able to find out sooner who the lucky winners will be this year.

First of all, we have Yoshinori Ohsumi getting the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for his discoveries regarding mechanisms and autophagy” (autophagy meaning “self-eating”) describing the process of cells degrading and recycling. It follows the main idea that the cell can destroy its own contents which are wrapping it up in the so called vesicles so that it can be transported to a place where it is degraded building energy for the recreation of cell components. His research upon autophagy is of great importance especially for the embryo development and physiological functions like aging or holding cancer cells back.


Another category would be Chemistry in which three winners have been announced. Jean-Pierre Sauvage worked together with Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa on the “the design and synthesis of molecular machines”. The three scientists combined their ideas in order to bind small ring-shaped molecules forming a macromolecular motor which is able to function in a minimal size. This invention of designing nano machines could have the potential to create nano robots which are able to search for cancer cells in the body and directly input the necessary medicine for a faster cure.

The next winners are David J. Thouless, F. Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz who will be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the “theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”. Besides the three known states of matter, liquid, gaseous and solid, there also exist the so called exotic states of matter such as Bose-Einstein-condensate and plasma, representing the negative respectively positive extremes of the temperature which they have focused on. They have not only observed the phase transitions (the change from one state to another) but also in relation to their topological state and behavior. Topology is a branch in mathematics which studies a geometrical body’s behavior such as the formation of holes in a piece of clay. This discovery is more than helpful for the quantum computers, and it may even shorten its development time by creating cables that are able to conduct electric current without any loss.

Besides all the scientific categories, Alfred Nobel had also thought of people fighting against war and violence and thus introduced the Nobel Peace Prize, this year given to the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, an economist by profession and a journalist by trade, “for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end”. He did not only fight for peace inside his country but he also stopped a war and even saved the FARC-hostage, Ingrid Betancourt, who was kept prisoner for a long time. Over the years he has been regarded as a skillful politician and as a hero for negotiating a peace treaty with the guerillas in his country, which is why he will be given this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Another less scientific prize being also the last of the main categories is the Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Bob Dylan for “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. What makes him special is that, unlike most people of his time, he has never been a pacifist and has never wanted to be one, while he still fights for world peace. Most people don’t know what he means by that and think it would be the same, but there is a huge difference. Pacifists try to stop a war without fighting in any way except for the verbal one whereas a person, who is for peace, would be for a war if it meant peace afterwards or if it just saved some people being kept captive, etc. This made the message behind his songs and stories so strong and exceptional, being one of the many reasons why he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

This article was featured in our 8th issue.