Noble Prize of 2016 – Here Are the Winners (and What They Achieved)
Background – The Nobel Prizes, established by Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel in 1895, have recognized achievements in a suite of sciences and the people behind those scientific pinnacles.
Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology:-
Fukuoka, Japan-born scientist, Yoshinori Ohsumi illuminated a cellular process called autophagy, or “self-eating,” in which cells take unneeded or damaged material, including entire organelles, and transport them to a recycling compartment of sorts — in yeast cells, this compartment is called the lisosome, while vacuoles serve a similar purpose in human cells.
Ohsumi figured out a way to observe the inner workings of yeast cells and reveal autophagy inside them. He went even further to identify the genes involved in yeast autophagy and to show that similar self-eating mechanisms occur inside human cells. His discoveries in the 1990s led to a new understanding of how the cell recycles its contents, opening up a window into the importance of autophagy to several physiological processes and even to understanding certain diseases. Mutations in autophagy have been linked to diseases such as cancer and neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease
Nobel Prize in Physics
David J. Thouless, F. Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz were jointly awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in physics for “theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.” (Topology refers to “a branch of mathematics that describes properties that change step-wise,” according to the Nobel Foundation.)
These theoretical discoveries revealed the possibility of a bizarre world where matter can take on different, and strange, states. Using advanced mathematics, the trio examined weird states of matter, such as superfluids, or substances that behave like liquids but have zero viscosity or resistance to flow. In superfluids, there is no friction impeding the liquid’s flow and so its particles act as one super particle. Other exotic states of matter include thin magnetic films and superconductors.
Some examples of the odd behavior of these states of matter include: superfluid vortexes that continue to spin without slowing down, forever, and when electrical current flows, with no resistance, through a superconductor.
“Thanks to their pioneering work, the hunt is now on for new and exotic phases of matter. Many people are hopeful of future applications in both materials science and electronics,” reads a statement by the Nobel Foundation.
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for the design and synthesis of molecular machines.” In other words, this trio developed the world’s smallest machines by linking together molecules into a unit that, when energy is added, could do some kind of work. These machines, a thousand times thinner than a strand of hair, included a tiny lift, mini motors and artificial muscles.
By miniaturizing machines, these Nobel Laureates have “taken chemistry to a new dimension”.
Nobel Peace Prize
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has won the Nobel Peace Prize “for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end, a war that has cost the lives of at least 220,000 Colombians and displaced close to 6 million people,” according to a statement by the Nobel Foundation.
President Santos helped to negotiate a peace deal between the Colombian government and Marxist FARC guerrillas, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. He ensured that Colombians could voice their opinion about the peace accord in a referendum; however, a narrow majority of voters said no to the accord. Even so, because of the accord, a ceasefire went into effect at the end of August. The accord is contingent on a referendum that will be held this month.
“If you compare it to other peace agreements throughout the recent history, you will find that this is the most comprehensive and the most complete. We did not leave any detail out,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpou.
Nobel Prize in Literature
Robert Zimmerman, more commonly known as Bob Dylan, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, said in a statement.
He is the first musician to be honored in this category, and Danius described him in an interview as “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition,” with a body of work spanning 54 years.
In fact, Dylan emerged early on in his career as more than just a musician. His lyrics, which were both poetic and sharply observant, highlighted social inequalities and injustice across America; his early songs, in particular, championed the rights of workers, people living in poverty, and people who had been victimized by institutionalized racism. He was a prominent part of the American folk music scene in the 1960s and performed at numerous protests for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam — his gravelly and distinctive voice is, for many, the voice of their generation.
SC extends judicial review powers
In a blow to Ordinance Raj, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has widened the boundaries of judicial review to the extent that it can now examine whether the President or the State Governor was spurred by an “oblique motive” to bypass the legislature and promulgate an ordinance.
These below mentioned observations were made by the court while dealing with the case related to the constitutionality of seven successive re-promulgations of the Bihar Non-Government Sanskrit Schools (Taking Over of Management and Control) Ordinance of 1989. The State government had approached the Supreme Court after the Patna High Court declared that repeated re-promulgation of the ordinances was unconstitutional after relying on the D.C. Wadhwa judgment on the dos and don’ts of promulgation of ordinances by another Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in 1986.
In the Dr. D.C. Wadhwa versus State of Bihar case, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that the Executive has no arbitrary right to promulgate ordinances. The apex court held that it is the right of every citizen to insist that he should be governed by laws made in accordance with the Constitution and not law made by the Executive in violation of the constitutional provisions.
Recent Observations made by court:-
- The court has held that the satisfaction of the President under Article 123 and of the Governor under Article 213 is not immune from judicial review.
- The court also said that it would scrutinise whether the satisfaction of the President or the Governor to promulgate an ordinance was based on relevant material or whether it amounted to a “fraud on power or was actuated by an oblique motive.”
- The court also observed that it was obligatory for the government to place the ordinance before the legislative body for its approval and non-placement of ordinances before the Parliament and the State legislature would itself constitute a fraud on the constitution.
- Besides, re-promulgation defeats the constitutional scheme under which a limited power to frame ordinances has been conferred on the President and the Governors. The danger of re-promulgation lies in the threat which it poses to the sovereignty of Parliament and the state legislatures which have been constituted as primary law givers under the Constitution
India, Pakistan exchange lists of nuclear sites
India and Pakistan recently exchanged for the 26th consecutive year the list of their nuclear installations under a bilateral agreement that prohibits them from attacking each other’s atomic facilities.
- The exchange was carried out under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations between India and Pakistan.
- This is the 26th consecutive exchange of such list between the two countries, the first one having taken place on January 1, 1992.
About the agreement:
The agreement, which was signed on December 31, 1988, and entered into force on January 27, 1991, says that the two countries will inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the agreement on January 1 of every calendar year.
Drug discovery for GPCR signalling made easy by IIT Kanpur
Researchers have shown that the regulation of G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) by new drugs can be simpler than generally thought — it can be mediated by engaging only the end of the receptor, which is called the tail of the receptor.
With this, discovering new drugs that bind to G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs), which are central to almost every physiological process in our body such as vision, taste, immune response and cardiovascular regulation, becomes easier.
Nearly 50% of prescription drugs currently available in the market for the treatment of blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes, obesity, cancer and many other human diseases target GPCR receptors. All these drugs bind to their respective receptors and either activate or stop their signalling.
G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest and most diverse group of membrane receptors in eukaryotes. These cell surface receptors act like an inbox for messages in the form of light energy, peptides, lipids, sugars, and proteins. They receive signals and transmit them into the cells.