Wednesday, December 19, 2007

2005 Nobel Prize Winners

The 2005 Nobel Prize winners were announced Oct. 3-13. Each prize is worth about $1.3 million.

Chemistry: Americans Robert H. Grubbs and Richard R. Schrock and France's Yves Chauvin shared me prize for developing a method of organic synthesis that allows industries to manufacture new drugs, stronger plastics, and better food preservatives more efficiently while reducing hazardous byproducts of chemical reactions.

Literature: The Nobel Prize Committee awarded the literature prize to British playwright Harold Pinter, "who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms." The Caretaker (1959) and The Homecoming (1964) were among major plays noted by the Academy.

Economics: Israeli-American Robert J. Aumann and American Thomas C. Schelling were recognized "for having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis." Game theory is used to illuminate political and economic conflict and cooperation.

Peace: The International Atomic Energy Agency and its chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, were awarded the prize for efforts to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used safely. The Nobel committee chairman said the prize was not intended as a rebuff to a particular nation or leader. In 2004, the Bush administration had opposed ElBaradei for a 3rd term as head of the UN watchdog agency.

Physics: Americans Roy J. Glauber and John L. Hall and German Theodor W. Hänsch shared the prize for applying quantum physics to the study of optics, which led to improved lasers and Global Positioning System technologies. Glauber received ½ of the award, while Hall and Hansen were awarded ¼ each.

Physiology or Medicine: Australians Barry Marshall and Robin Warren shared the honor for their 1982 discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in causing stomach and intestinal ulcers. Their findings were initially met with skepticism, since the long-prevailing medical view was that stomach acid and stress caused peptic ulcers. Discovery of the role H. pylori plays in gastrointestinal inflammation has led to antibiotic treatments for ulcers, as well as to research into microbial causes of other chronic inflammatory conditions.

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