Nobel Prize winners in science reward complex

Space for science
René Anaya
The Karolinska Institute, responsible for awarding the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences that designates the Nobel Prize in Physics and Chemistry recognized discoveries and advances that address or solve complex phenomena of nature.
Recipients in an investigation
The American David Julius, from the University of California, San Francisco and the Lebanese Ardem Patapoutian, a nationalized American, from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, obtained the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch”, which allowed finish unraveling the complex interaction between our senses and the environment and have opened the possibility of developing drugs for chronic diseases.
Julius used capsaicin, the compound that gives the spicy sensation of chili peppers, to identify the receptor that responds to heat, known as TRPV1, in the nerve endings of the skin, which also responds to heat and is activated at high temperatures that cause pain.
In independent work, the two winners found the TRPM8 receptor that is activated by cold. The discovery of these two receptors allowed us to identify others that capture different degrees of cold, heat and pain.
For his part, Patapoutian used pressure-sensitive cells to discover a new class of sensors that respond to mechanical stimuli in the skin and internal organs. The first received the name Piezo1, from the Greek word for pressure; shortly after, he discovered the second that he called Piezo2. Both receptors regulate skin touch, breathing, blood pressure, and control of urine in the bladder. The second in particular is essential to inform us of the position of our different parts of the body, as if we are sitting, leaning on something, standing … It puts us in contact with the environment.
Understanding complex physical systems
“For innovative contributions to our understanding of complex physical systems,” three researchers were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. The Japanese Syukuro Manabe, from Princeton University and the German Klaus Hasselmann from the Max Planck Institute will receive half the amount of the Nobel “for the physical modeling of the Earth’s climate, quantifying the variability and reliably predicting global warming.” While the Italian Giorgio Parisi from the Sapienza University of Rome will be awarded the other half of the Nobel “for the discovery of the interaction of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from the atomic to the planetary scale.”
Manabe demonstrated how increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes an increase in the temperature of the Earth’s surface. His work, carried out in the 1960s, is believed to have laid the foundation for the development of current climate models.
In the decade that followed, Hasselman developed methods to identify specific signals, footprints, that both natural phenomena and human activities imprint on the climate. Their methods were used to show that the increase in temperature in the atmosphere is due to human emissions of carbon dioxide.
For his part, Parisi discovered hidden patterns in messy complex materials, which allow us to understand and describe many different and apparently completely random materials and phenomena, not only in physics but also in very different areas, such as mathematics, biology, neuroscience and machine learning.
“All of the laureates have contributed to us gaining a deeper insight into the properties and evolution of complex physical systems,” said Thors Hans Hansson, Chairman of the Nobel Committee for Physics.
Molecule builders
The German Benjamin List, director of the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research, and the British David MacMillan of Princeton University will receive this year the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis”, which they achieved independently.
Organocatalysis is a new tool for the construction of molecules that makes chemical processes with catalysts more ecological, which are essential to form elastic and durable materials, store energy in batteries, make medicines and many other products that make our lives more friendly.
Catalysts are substances that control and accelerate chemical reactions to create molecules, without being part of the final product. Until 2000 there were only two types: metals and enzymes (proteins that catalyze in the body).
Metal catalysts require an environment free of oxygen and moisture; In addition, many of the molecules produced are of two variants, like a mirror image, which can have different properties. Enzymes have the particularity of creating asymmetric molecules (without specular variant), which we wanted to achieve to avoid side effects in drugs and other products, as happened with a variant of thalidomide that in the 1960s caused deformations in human embryos.
List tried building molecules with proline (one of the component amino acids of proteins), which he succeeded. Around the same time, MacMillan tested the possibility of generating asymmetric molecules with simple organic molecules (molecules that contain carbon and are found in living things), which can have complex properties. As he managed to create new catalysts, he named this process organocatalysis, the term by which this innovative procedure is known.
Scientific advances awarded with the Nobel Prize in Science have provided new insights into understanding some of the complex natural phenomena.
@ RenAnaya2
f / René Anaya Scientific Journalist
* Published in Siempre! Magazine

We would love to give thanks to the writer of this article for this awesome content

Nobel Prize winners in science reward complex

Hank Gilbert