Explaining the science behind this year’s Nobel Prizes for Chemistry and Physics | The Hindu In Focus podcast

In this second part of a two-episode series on the Nobel Prizes, we go into the Chemistry and Physics 2020 awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, for discovering one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors.

Also read our explainer on the Chemistry Nobel 2020:

And for physics, British mathematician-physicist Roger Penrose received half of this year’s prize “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity”, as the the Nobel Committee put it. German Reinhard Genzel and American Andrea Ghez received the second half of the prize “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the center of our galaxy.” We explain the science behind both awards.

Also read our explainer on the Physics Nobel 2020:


Guest: T.V. Venkateshwaran, Science Communicator, Senior Scientist at Vigyan Prasar, New Delhi.

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Nobel Prizes and COVID-19: Slow, basic science may pay off

Slow and steady success in science has made researchers hopeful in the fight against the pandemic. It even offers a glimmer of climate optimism.

Many years of advances in basic molecular science, some of them already Nobel Prize-winning, have given the world tools for fast virus identification and speeded up the development of testing. And now they tantalize us with the prospect of COVID-19 treatments and ultimately a vaccine, perhaps within a few months.

“This could be science’s finest hour. This could be the time when we deliver, not just for the nation but the world, the miracle that will save us,” said geophysicist Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The coronavirus was sequenced in a matter of weeks, testing became available quickly, and vaccines that would normally take years may be developed in a year or less, and “it’s all been built on the back of

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The Nobel Prizes Have a Diversity Problem Worse Than the Scientific Fields They Honor | Best Countries

In 2007, I served as a consultant for the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ deliberations about the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. As a result, I was invited to attend the Nobel ceremonies. Staying at the Grand Hotel with all the awardees, I got to see how scientists – excellent but largely unknown outside their fields – suddenly became superstars.

As soon as they’re announced annually in early October, Nobel laureates become role models who are invited to give seminars all around the world. In Stockholm for the awards, these scientists were interviewed on radio and television and hobnobbed with Swedish royalty. Swedish television aired the events of Nobel week live.

As a chemist who has also investigated how science is done, seeing scientists and their research jump to the top of the public’s consciousness thanks to all the Nobel hoopla is gratifying. But in the 119 years since the Nobel

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Top Swiss science prizes awarded to biologist and mathematician

Optimal organisation: Maryna Viazovska (not pictured) won the award for her work on the packing of spheres. Keystone / Marton Monus

Rewarded for their work are a biologist working on cell proteins and a mathematician who solved a centuries-old problem about the optimal arrangement of spheres in a defined space.

This content was published on September 21, 2020 – 11:00


The Marcel Benoist prize, celebrating its hundredth edition, and the National Latsis prize for researchers under the age of 40, will be awarded at a joint ceremony in November in Bern.

The former prize, the “Swiss Nobel”, will be awarded to Rudolf Aebersold, a systems biology professor at the University of Zurich and the Federal Technology Institute ETH Zurich.

Aebersold is one of the founding fathers of “proteomics”, a discipline that examines the entire set of proteins present in a cell, according to a

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Poop Knives, Gassed-Up Gators, and More Absurd Science From the 2020 Ig Nobel Prizes

A frozen blade made from human poop.

A frozen blade made from human poop.
Image: M. I. Eren et al., 2019

The winners of the 2020 Ig Nobel Prizes have been announced, and the honored experiments include frozen knives made from poop, an alligator forced to inhale helium, and vibrating earthworms. This annual contest highlights achievements that make “people laugh, then think.”

The 30th Ig Nobel Prize ceremony was held online this year due to covid-19. Normally, these prizes, awarded by the satirical humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research, are handed out at a live event held at Harvard University. Global pandemic or not, the 2020 Ig Nobels still managed to celebrate the quirkier side of scientific research.

Experimental archaeologist Metin Eren and his colleagues from Kent State University were awarded the Materials Science Prize for manufacturing knives made from frozen poop.

The experiment was prompted by an ethnographic account of an Inuit man in

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