Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Two Israeli Scientists Share 2013 Nobel Prize For Chemistry
From L To R, Arieh Warshel, Michael Levitt and Martin Karplus
Two Israelis shared the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with a third chemist, an American Jew.
The trio won the award “for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced.
Professor Arieh Warshel, formerly of Israel's Weizmann Institute in Rehovot is an Israeli who is a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Professor Michael Levitt, an Israeli who emigrated from South Africa, also taught at the Weizmann Institute.
Professor Martin Karplus fled the Nazi occupation of Austria to America as a child in 1938.
Warshel said that work for which he and his colleagues were awarded the Nobel is for developing “a method that allowed us to understand how proteins actually work,” he said, and he explained that it was like seeing a watch, wondering what was going on inside, and finding out.
“We developed how a computer can take the structure of a protein, and can understand how it does exactly what it does — for example digesting food,” Warshel said. “You want to understand how it is happening, and then you can use it to design drugs, or in my case, to satisfy your curiosity,” the professor added.
Here are some interesting statistics.
Of the 23 chemistry Nobel prizes awarded in the past decade, 11 of the winners were Jewish and six of them were Israelis, an astounding statistic for such a small part of the Earth's population. In fact, Israel has produced no less than 12 Nobel Prizewinners, in all categories including literature, economics, medicine and all of the sciences.That works out to 16% of all Nobel prizes on a per capita basis.That makes Israel number 11 in most Nobel prizes awarded per capita based on it's population. America is number 15 on that list.
In fact, out of the 855 Nobel Prizes that have been awarded, 135 were Jews and about another 60 were people of half- or three-quarters-Jewish ancestry, although Jews comprise less than 0.2% of the world's population. That includes 26% of Nobel Laureates in Physics, 27% of Laureates in Physiology or Medicine, and 37% of Laureates in Economics.
It's interesting to contrast this with the entire Muslim world, which has a total of 11 prizes. Seven of those, including the ones to Yasser Arafat and and notoriously incompetent former IAEA chief and Mohammed El Baradi were for peace, two were for literature, one for physics and one for chemistry.
In view of recent (and not so recent) history, I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.