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2013 Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry announced

Posting in Science

Awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, this year's Nobel Prize awards for Chemistry go to Michael Levitt, a British-U.S. citizen of Stanford University; U.S.-Austrian Martin Karplus of Strasbourg University; and U.S.-Israeli Arieh Warshel of the University of Southern California.

In the 1970s, the trio laid the foundation for the powerful programs that are used to understand and predict chemical processes today, which have become crucial components for advances in modern chemistry.

In doing so, computers were able to pick up where classic chemistry failed, and as a result, the scientists' models have prompted advances in the understanding of organic chemistry and pharmaceuticals.

"The work of Karplus, Levitt and Warshel is ground-breaking in that they managed to make Newton’s classical physics work side-by-side with the fundamentally different quantum physics. Previously, chemists had to choose to use either or." the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said. "This year’s Nobel Laureates in chemistry took the best from both worlds and devised methods that use both classical and quantum physics."

For example, in simulations of how a drug couples to its target protein in the body, the computer performs quantum theoretical calculations on those atoms in the target protein that interact with the drug, while the rest of the large protein can be simulated in classical ways. The academy said:

"Today the computer is just as important a tool for chemists as the test tube.

Detailed knowledge of chemical processes makes it possible to optimise catalysts, drugs and solar cells."

This year's prize is SEK 8 million, which will be shared equally between the three winners.

Via: The Guardian

Image credit: NobelPrize.org/Wikimedia Commons

— By on October 8, 2013, 11:55 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure