A MARRIED couple from Norway has claimed this year’s Nobel prize for Physiology or Medicine for discovering cells that function as “an advanced positioning system in the brain”.Mary-Britt and Edvard Moser, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in the coastal city of Trondheim, shared this year’s award with US-born John O’Keefe of University College London.
Announcing the award in Stockholm, Swedish neuroscientist Ole Kiehn said the laureates had discovered key aspects of the system that “makes it possible to know where we are and find our way”.
“(These) abilities are central to our existence,” said Professor Kiehn, a member of the committee that recommends recipients of the prize for physiology or medicine.
He said Professor O’Keefe had discovered the first component of the system in the late 1960s, during experiments on the hippocampus — a key region of the brain — in rats. “Much to his surprise he found nerve cells that were only active when a rat was in a certain position in their environment.
“O’Keefe concluded that the activity of these cells create an inner map of the environment. The ‘place cells’ in the hippocampus generate many inner maps of the environment which give us information about where we are and how we can recognise new environments.”
More than 30 years later, the Mosers discovered another component of the positioning system after identifying a new type of nerve cell activity in a region of the brain known as the entorhinal cortex.
Professor Kiehn said the discovery of these “grid” cells showed that the brain could create a mental representation of a coordinate system for navigating the external world. “Grid cells provide the brain with the coordinate system that divide the environment into longitudes and latitudes, that allow us to keep track how far we are from a starting point and a turning point,” he said.
Tonight’s award kicks off a week of Nobel announcements in Stockholm and Oslo. The laureate for physics will be revealed tomorrow night, followed by chemistry on Wednesday, literature on Thursday, peace on Friday and economics next Monday.
Each prize is worth 8 million Swedish kronor (A$1.3 million). The awards will be presented on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of prize creator Alfred Nobel.
Medicine and physiology has been easily the most fruitful field for Australian Nobel laureates, reflecting the country’s strength in medical research.
Eight of Australia’s 15 Nobel laureates were awarded for their work in physiology or medicine. They include Elizabeth Blackburn, awarded in 2009 for discovering how chromosomes are protected by telomeres, and Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, who jointly received the 2005 prize for discovering that a bacterium was the primary trigger of cancer-causing peptic ulcers.
Other recipients include Peter Doherty in 1996, Bernard Katz in 1970, John Eccles in 1963, Macfarlane Burnet in 1960 and Howard Florey in 1945.
Some scientists had speculated that Australian-based immunologist Jacques Miller could become Australia’s 16th Nobel laureate this year, after he was tipped to receive the gong three years ago.
Fifty years ago in the UK, Professor Miller discovered the functions of a little known organ called the thymus.
Maybe one day Bob Dylan will get a Nobel Prize for Literature - he deserves it!
Looks like Bob Dylan missed out. The prize went to Patrick Modiano.
American, German scientists win 2014 chemistry Nobel
STOCKHOLM - American scientists Eric Betzig and William Moerner and Germany's Stefan Hell won the 2014 Nobel Prize for chemistry for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy, the award-giving body said on Wednesday.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarding the 8 million crown ($1.1 million) prize said the three scientists' research had made it possible to study molecular processes in real time.
"Due to their achievements the optical microscope can now peer into the nanoworld," the academy said in a statement.
Malala Yousafzai Wins Peace Prize! Shares with Kailash Satyarthi
CHILDREN’s rights activists Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited the two “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
Yousafzai, now 17, is a schoolgirl and education campaigner in Pakistan who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman two years ago.
Satyarthi, 60, has maintained the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and headed various forms of peaceful protests, “focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain,” the Nobel committee said.
The Nobel Committee said it “regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.”
The founder of the Nobel Prizes, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, said the prize committee should give the prize to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
The committee has interpreted those instructions differently over time, widening the concept of peace work to include efforts to improve human rights, fight poverty and clean up the environment.
With thanks to The Australian – October 10th.
Some one who should have received one years ago - Alan Turing:
Alan Turing didn’t get a Nobel. We killed him instead. He should have got one for inventing the mathematical theory that led to modern computing (physics), the binary system of naughts and ones he dreamed up when barely a student. He could have got one (peace) for cracking the Enigma Code and helping to win World War Two. He could have got one (physiology) for working out the equations behind the growth and differential development of living bodies, a contribution most of us forget, but one that was equally brilliant. Instead of receiving one (or three) Nobels he was persecuted as a gay man and he killed himself to escape his misery. I think of him whenever I visit Kings College, Cambridge, where there is a Turing Room.
This extract from The ABC
More posts on Alan Turing can be found by using the search function on this blog like this one
although there are several others.
The New Turing Test:Brainy Machines Need An Updated IQ Test, Experts Say