Trio win Nobel Prize in Chemistry for making Newton's classical physics work side-by-side with quantum physics

 

Three scientists have shared this year's Nobel Prize in chemistry. Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel won the award for laying the foundation for computer models used to understand and predict chemical processes.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said their research in the 1970s has helped scientists develop programmess that unveil chemical processes such as the purification of exhaust fumes or the photosynthesis in green leaves.

"The work of Karplus, Levitt and Warshel is ground-breaking in that they managed to make Newton's classical physics work side-by-side with the fundamentally different quantum physics," the academy said. "Previously, chemists had to choose to use either/or."

Karplus, an America and Austrian citizen is affiliated with the University of Strasbourg, France, and Harvard University. Levitt is a British and Israeli citizen and a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Warshel is a US and Israeli citizen affiliated with the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Marinda Li Wu, president of the American Chemical Society, was enthusiastic about the award. 

"I think it's fabulous," she said in a telephone interview. ''They're talking about the partnering of theoreticians with experimentalists, and how this has led to greater understanding." 

That is "bringing better understanding to problems that couldn't be solved experimentally," she said. "We're starting as scientists to better understand things like how pharmaceutical drugs interact with proteins in our body to treat diseases. This is very, very exciting."

Earlier this week, three Americans won the Nobel Prize in medicine for discoveries about how key substances are moved around within cells and the physics award went to British and Belgian scientists whose theories help explain how matter formed after the Big Bang.

AP

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