The winners of the 2012 Nobel prizes were announced last week.

I thought I would post some videos that explain the work of the winning scientists which you can use to inspire the next generation of scientists.

Physics

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2012 was awarded jointly to Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland “for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems”.  I admit it, this is beyond me. However, the video below attempts to explain this in a way mere mortals would understand.

Medicine

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2012 was awarded jointly to Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent”.

This is something that is covered at GCSE level and discussion of the work by both scientists would be a great addition to a lesson on stem cells or cloning.  In 1962, John Gurdon was the first person to clone an animal by nuclear transfer. This technique was most famously used to create Dolly the sheep. You can see him talk about his work in the video below.

More recently, Yamanaka transformed skin cells into stem cells. In the future it is hoped that new cells to repair organs can be made using this technique.

Chemistry

Crystal Structure of a Lipid G protein-Coupled Receptor SIPR1 Credit: A2-33 @ wikimedia commons

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2012 was awarded jointly to Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka “for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors”

This is more up my street – yeah for biochemistry! Don’t you just love a computer simulated model of a protein? No – just me then (and the professor in this video).

The winners of the prize worked out the structure of the receptors using x-ray crystallography  This work has led us to understand more about how receptors on the surface of cells work and how they transmit the messages carried by chemicals such as hormones into the cell. You can see a brilliant stationary-based model of how they work  in the video.

This work is important in the development of new drugs that bind to the receptors.

 

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  2. Exciting new biotechnology
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  4. What’s the beef? Is cloning cows cruel?
  5. Lizard lunch