Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More Americans Win Nobel Prizes

It's that time of year again...Nobel Prize week. Each day the Nobel Prize committee will announce the winners of this year's awards for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace. Each prize consists of a medal, personal diploma, and a cash award.

This year the first three announcements have involved a lot of Americans, something that isn't always the case for this international award.

On Monday, three Americans shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine "for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase." Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Grieder and Jack W. Szostak each get 1/3 of the prize.

On Tuesday, 1/2 the Nobel Prize for Physics went to Charles K. Kao "for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication." The other half was split between Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith "for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit – the CCD sensor."

And today, two Americans and an Israeli share equally in the Nobel Prize for Chemistry "for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome." They are Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas Steitz, and Ada Yonath.

The remaining prizes will be announced in the following days.

It is important to keep in mind that the Nobel Prizes are given for work that may have been done decades ago, only after the significance of their achievements have become clear. It is critical that we continue to provide support for scientists in various fields for both basic and applied research. Without it our innovation for the future is sure to suffer.

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