• Sweden edition
 
NOBEL PRIZES 2013
Karplus, Levitt, Warshel get Nobel chemistry nod

Karplus, Levitt, Warshel get Nobel chemistry nod

Published: 09 Oct 2013 11:45 GMT+02:00
Updated: 09 Oct 2013 11:45 GMT+02:00

The announcement was made at the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences at Stockholm University.

The Royal Academy explained in a statement that the laureates "have made it possible to map the mysterious ways of chemistry by using computers", adding that detailed knowledge of chemical processes allows the possibility of optimizing catalysts, drugs and solar cells.

Professor Warshel said he was "extremely well" when reached by phone in Los Angeles, despite the early hours on the US west coast.

"What we have done is to develop a method ... how proteins actually work," he explained. "It's like seeing a watch and wondering how actually it works. In short, what we developed is a way that requires a computer to take the structure of a protein and then to eventually understand how it does what it does."

"If you want to understand how it is happening then you can use it for example to design drugs or in my case to satisfy your curiosity."

The focus on enzymes mean there are drugs on the market today, including HIV medication, that have been developed with the help of the trio's model, said Johan Åqvist, professor of theoretical chemistry and a Royal Academy board member who has worked with Warshel in Los Angeles.

"Molecular size doesn't matter," Åqvist explained about the model that has made it possible to test theories on complex chemical reactions. Asked to summarize in a few words what the laureates had won the prize for, he said, "computers take over chemistry".

"The computational methods allow you to study biochemical processes in details. One problem before was that there wasn't enough computational power to treat complex systems with thousands, or nowadays millions, of atoms," Åqvist told The Local.

Warshel, when he moved from Israel, brought with him knowledge from the computer Golem - one of the early computers that were critical to the field, Åqvist said.

"When chemical reactions happen you break and make new bonds. It can only be treated with quantum mechanics, but if these reactions take place inside a big enzyme, there are thousands of atoms surrounding this little region where things really happens," Åqvist continued.

"The nice idea they had was to treat the surrounding part with classical physics, but this very interesting area with quantum physics," he added. "They are focusing in."

This in essence means researchers can now look at very complex reactions that were previously out of reach - "molecular size doesn't matter," Åqvist said.

Gunnar Karlström at the Swedish Royal Academy told reporters that the laureates "sent away a three-step rocket" - first step when Karplus and Warshel in 1973 devised a method to merge the "quantum and classical worlds" in chemistry. Subsequent research added two more steps to the work that was recognized on Wednesday.

To break it down to its simplest form, the Nobel Prize was awarded for the three chemists' work in using computers to make visible and to understand exactly what's going on during chemical reactions.

Chemical reactions occur at lightning speed, the committee reasoned, with electrons jumping between atomic nucleii so microscopically, that the prying eyes of scientists simply cannot watch.

It was the methods of Karplus, Levitt, and Warshel - first realized back in the seventies - that allowed modern scientists to devise and carry out such experiments on their computers

The three laureates will share a prize sum of 8 million kronor ($1.24 million)

Martin Karplus was born in 1930 in Vienna, Austria, and is a US citizen. He studied at the California Institute of Technology and is Professeur Conventionné at the Université de Strasbourg in France, as well as at Harvard in the United States.

Michael Levitt is a US and British citizen, born 1947 in Pretoria, South Africa. He studied at Cambridge University in the UK.

Arieh Warshel is a dual US-Israeli citizen born in 1940 in Kibbutz Sde-Nahum, Israel. He studied at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, and is the distinguished Professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Wednesday's news follows Tuesday's Physics announcement where Peter Higgs and Francois Englert took home the Nobel Prize, and Monday's Medicine Prize which went to two Americans and one German for their research into cell transportation systems.

Follow our live blog of the Nobel week here.

The Local/at/og

Follow The Local on Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
International
Sweden's 'most dangerous art' on sale
A Danish site is selling the works that the Swedish state wants destroyed. Screenshot: www.entartetekunst.dk

Sweden's 'most dangerous art' on sale

Work by controversial jailed Swedish artist Dan Park is on sale online and could reach a gallery in Copenhagen, despite a previous exhibition being pulled. READ  

Lifestyle
Sweden is 'second best' place to grow old
Pensioners in Sweden. Photo: TT

Sweden is 'second best' place to grow old

Sweden has dropped to second place in an annual index measuring the quality of life of elderly people in 96 countries around the world. READ  

National
Top Swedish skier killed in Chile avalanche
Andreas Fransson, left. Photo: Markus Alatalo

Top Swedish skier killed in Chile avalanche

UPDATED: The bodies of two of the world's top skiers, Sweden's Andreas Fransson and JP Auclair from Canada, were found on Tuesday after they were reported missing in an avalanche in the Andes. READ  

Politics
Coalition promise to boost welfare and jobs
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

Coalition promise to boost welfare and jobs

UPDATED: The Social Democrats and the Greens have agreed to raise unemployment payments and promised to create more jobs in the construction industry, The Local has learned. READ  

National
Ikea recalls elk pasta
Two types of pasta are affected. Photo: IKEA

Ikea recalls elk pasta

Ikea has pulled two different types of elk-shaped pasta from its stores in Sweden. READ  

Presented by Regus
How to get your own great office in Stockholm
A woman using a Regus workspace. Photo: Regus

How to get your own great office in Stockholm

Stockholm's business climate is hotter than ever, which leaves start-ups and business travellers hunting high and low for flexible office space. The solution is easier than they think. READ  

National
King Carl XVI Gustaf opens parliament
King Carl XVI Gustaf arriving on Tuesday afternoon. Photo: TT

King Carl XVI Gustaf opens parliament

BREAKING: Sweden's post-election parliament is meeting for the first time following a fanfare opening from King Carl XVI Gustaf. READ  

Opinion
Should Sweden's school age be raised?
A high school in Stockholm. Photo: TT

Should Sweden's school age be raised?

After the new coalition announced plans to extend Sweden's compulsory schooling until the age of 18, The Local asked two Swedes at high school if they agreed with the idea. READ  

Brand stories
JohannaN: beautiful jewellery with a story

JohannaN: beautiful jewellery with a story

Just 27 and already living off of her own designs, some may consider Johanna Nilsson lucky. But she doesn't believe in luck. She's the founder of a jewellery line blending sustainability, subtle style, and Scandinavian simplicity - and it's taking the world by storm. READ  

International
Sweden slammed for ecological footprint
Sweden should increase its renewable energy according to WWF. Photo:TT

Sweden slammed for ecological footprint

Sweden is among the world's top ten polluters according to one of the largest scientific studies looking at the impact of humans on earth, produced by the WWF. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Apology for Swedish model's stolen photos
Politics
New coalition agrees on defence and migration
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Botkyrka
Education
New government to make school compulsory to 18
Politics
Sweden Democrat wins Deputy Speaker spot
Blog updates

28 September

Spoiled Doyle (Blogweiser) »

"What you gotta watch out for in Sweden is the good stuff. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re_EzUe6xpI In Sweden, it’s the good things you have to watch out for. Video on @TheLocalSweden http://t.co/rAb8eGFdTD pic.twitter.com/w37YYwMXy1 — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) September 29, 2014 " READ »

 

26 September

 (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Autumn swept into Sweden at the start of this week with snow in the north of the country and flooding in the south. As well as a change in the weather, Sweden’s change in political direction became clearer, with Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven formally announcing his party would work with the Greens as..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Swedish scientists sneak Bob Dylan lyrics into articles
Lifestyle
The five best Swedish songs of the month
Gallery
People-watching: September 28th
National
When Italian style meets Swedish simplicity
Lifestyle
Review: Sweden's first alcohol-free nightclub
Gallery
In Pictures: The MS Estonia disaster
Lifestyle
Ten things expat women notice in Sweden
Politics
What's next on Sweden's political stage?
Gallery
Sweden's 2014 election: Most memorable moments
Society
What's on in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 24th
Seaman Oliver Gee with his first lobster
Lifestyle
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Gallery
In Pictures: Fredrik Reinfeldt through the years.
Society
Plucked out of Canada for love and guitars
Politics
How Sweden Democrats went mainstream
Politics
Scandinavia and Scotland: closer links?
Sponsored Article
How to start a business in Stockholm
Society
Why is Stockholm's Södermalm so cool?
Politics
Sweden elections: Who's who?
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

852
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN