Nobelpreisträgertreffen

Ashutosh Jogalekar

Marie Curie once said that “Science is about things, and not people”. While this statement is true and profound, the fruits of science are unmistakably linked to their human origins, postmodernist relativism notwithstanding. The scientists who make discoveries are human beings, and they shoulder their share of foibles and successes, petty rivalries and forthcoming generosity,…

When the controversial and talented physicist Edward Teller was doing a PhD. with the great Werner Heisenberg at the University of Leipzig, the question asked at the end of every group meeting that focused on a complex sequence of problems was “Wo ist der Witz?”, supposed to be translated as “What is the point”? but…

Young researchers on science and faith

In some ways Harry Kroto’s talk at Lindau was the most provocative of all because of its emphasis on a rejection, or at least transparent criticism, of religious faith. To get an idea of what students thought about it I buttonholed three graduate students, two from Germany and one from Russia, during lunch on Thursday.…

Today’s talk by MIT chemist Richard Schrock was about a discovery that was applied in part to a long-standing chemical problem. There was no efficient method for forming large molecular rings until Robert Grubbs from Caltech and Schrock arrived on the scene. The method that accomplished this was called olefin metathesis. For their achievement, Schrock…

Last year’s chemistry Nobel Prize was one of the most softball predictions ever made for the Nobel Prize. The Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) has become so widely used in chemistry, biology and medicine that it is easy to forget that someone had to discover it and develop the technology. Every year Roger Tsien’s name used…

The dinner companion

When you first meet Aaron Ciechanover, he appears to have the distracted air of a man who feels slightly inconvenienced to be in whatever situation has been apparently imposed on him. But this preoccupied demeanor belies a mind which is ready to hold forth on a disparate variety of topics with infinite verve and enthusiasm…

When I visit my favourite restaurant for lunch or dinner, I usually order a legitimate food item from the main course. But once in a while, just to indulge, I order a sample platter of appetizers. The appetizers don’t always provide the deep satisfaction that I get from eating a proper, expensive food item. But…

The friendly laureate

Image source Peter Agre has got to be one of the nicest scientists I have ever met. Until now I had only one data point to support this conclusion; a very enjoyable chat with him along with some other students last year at Emory University. Now I have two. Today in an informal, entertaining, witty…

Image source: Nobel Foundation Every year as Nobel Prize winning season approaches, one sees a flurry of predictions about prizewinners materializing on blogs. I have played the prediction game myself for a couple of years. When I was in graduate school one of my professors offered to give extra points to anyone in the class…

The other Walter Kohn

Image source Since Walter Kohn’s talk in this year’s meeting is about a topic completely unrelated to his Nobel Prize winning research, it is worth contemplating briefly on the great impact of his major contribution to chemistry and physics. Kohn was originally trained as a physicist under the tutelage of Julian Schwinger at Harvard University.…