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Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the say-it-ten-times-fast dept.

Announcements 114

An anonymous reader writes "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2005 has been jointly awarded to Robert H. Grubbs (California Institute of Technology), Richard R. Schrock (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and Yves Chauvin (Institut Français du Pétrole) for the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis." Advanced [PDF] and supplementary [PDF] information is also available from the Nobel Prize site.

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114 comments

eat it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723227)

my ass that is

Re:eat it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13725262)

will do school skillet

Fuel? (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723288)

From TFA: This year's Nobel Prize Laureates in chemistry have made metathesis into one of organic chemistry's most important reactions. Fantastic opportunities have been created for producing many new molecules - pharmaceuticals, for example. Imagination will soon be the only limit to what molecules can be built!

So does that mean that we can build long chain carbon molecules like, say, gasoline, out of other organic material like, say, chicken shit? 'Cause that's what I'm imagining.

Re:Fuel? (4, Informative)

thc69 (98798) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723315)

Well, we can already make diesel out of nearly any kind of oil extracted from nearly any biological material...

Re:Fuel? (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724856)

[ ... ] extracted from nearly any biological material...

Oh no ! "Fuel Green" is people !

Re:Fuel? (3, Informative)

metternich (888601) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723333)

Synthetic Oil has been around for a long time. The Germans made oil from coal in WWII as did the South Africans under the Aparthaid Sanctions. (The Chinese are now starting to use this techlonogy as well.) I don't if this new method will help with this, but if it could be done at a large scale I imagine it would.

Re:Fuel? (2, Informative)

thebdj (768618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723430)

this new method

Remember this is the nobel prize we are talking about. These are not necessarily new methods, which is something people have repeatedly forgotten over the last few days of science award posts. Many of these discoveries have been done over time, and in fact started work in the '70s or earlier and may have been finalized in the late 80s or early 90s. Nobel Prizes do not have to be given to you the year you create some new and wonderful thing, and most often this is not the case. Think of the Nobel Prize more as a lifetime achievement award (I mean most the recipients are typically of advanced age) in your scientific field.

Not meant to be a lifetime achievement award (4, Insightful)

200_success (623160) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723955)

Actually, according to Alfred Nobel's will and the statutes [nobelprize.org] of the Nobel Foundation, the prizes are meant to be awarded rather promptly:

The interest... shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.

Granted, the passage of time is often necessary for the relative importance of a work to become apparent, since bold new ideas tend to be controversial and cannot be appreciated without hindsight.

Re:Not meant to be a lifetime achievement award (1)

ptr2004 (695756) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724335)

Too bad they dont do the passage of time for peace prize. I am sure Gandhi would have been a good candidate

Re:Fuel? (4, Informative)

suchire (638146) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723532)

Not only is this a new method, but it isn't really all that practical for the synthesis of fuels. You can't run this reaction with just substrates and the Grubb's catalyst; you have to have solvents, which cost money. The catalysts have a finite lifetime and turnover, so you also have to replace those. That's not really very cost effective, in the end, compared to simply adapting technologies to use the substrates as fuel directly.

Re:Fuel? (3, Interesting)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 8 years ago | (#13725087)

That's the Fischer-Tropsch process to take coal and convert/refine into high octane gasoline. It was invented in Germany in the 1920's. Fischer was awarded the Nobel in Chemistry (1902) but not for for this idea. South Afica makes most of thier gasoline this way still since they adopted the process when embargoed in the 1980s for Apartheid. SA has lots of coal but not much oil. Sasol and Shell are using the process today to make gasoline from coal in SA and from natural gas in Malaysia. It's quite a good process, very scalable to industrial use. Why we don't use it in the USA I don't know as we also have plenty of coal.

Re:Fuel? (1)

LukeWink (898707) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723795)

So does that mean that we can build long chain carbon molecules like, say, gasoline, out of other organic material like, say, chicken shit? 'Cause that's what I'm imagining.
Maybe, but I'm willing to bet that the energy consumed in making such a molecule will be more than the energy derived from burning said molecule. Kind of defeats the whole purpose of synthesizing gasoline.

Re:Fuel? (2, Insightful)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724068)

I doubt even gasoline would live up to those standards the energy to pump it out of the ground transport it to a refinary, transport to the gas station and pump it into your car. The more pertitant question would be can it be done cheaply enough to cost less than gas and the awnser is no. Synthic oil costs more than regular because it costs more to produce.

dupe (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723291)

for fuck's sake, do we have to read this twice? it was dull the first time round!

Re:dupe (1)

nothingx (809091) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723385)

I think you're thinking of the physics award [slashdot.org]. This one's for chemistry, a related but separate field of science. I'm also sorry to hear that you find Nobel prize winner's stories "dull", I can not imagine what other greatness you must aspire too.

Re:dupe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723412)

LOL YHBT

Re:dupe (3, Insightful)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723618)

for [frak]'s sake, do we have to read this twice? it was dull the first time round!

<sarcasm style="dripping">
I'm sorry today's omelette [slashdot.org] wasn't to your taste. Maybe tomorrow they'll talk about Halo and Doom 3 instead! That'd be more interesting, right?
</sarcasm>

Re:dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13725482)

Silence, dickhead. Take your pitifully unhumourous XML tags and stick them up your arse.

Grubbs is great (5, Interesting)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723302)

I took a class (Ch41, Chemistry of Covalent Compounds) from Professor Grubbs, and he is an excellent teacher as well as a great scientist. He can also take a joke. The following was published in Nothing, an unofficial humor paper published by a couple of bored Techers, and based by a standard lecture that Grubbs gave to every Organic Chemistry class before their first test.

Caltech Professor Lashes Out Against High Energy Reaction

In a remarkable demonstration of unbridled passion, Caltech professor Rober Brubbs yesterday lashed out against a high energy reaction--namely, one which includes the formation of a quintuply-bonded carbon. Provoked to a fever pitch by the prospect of dsp3 hybridization in a first period species, he opined: "This reaction doesn't have a chance in hell of happening." He proceeded to characterize quintuply-bonded carbons as "bad", "no good", "undesirable", and "a damned silly notion." After his oration Professor Gurbbs nonchalantly continued with the lecture.

Earlier this mornin, students and other various members of the Caltech and Pasadena communities picketed Grubbs' office to demand retraction of his libelous comments. At the protest, Jennifer O'Leary, spokeswoman for the Quintuply-Bonded Carbon Anti-Defamation League, characterized Grubbs's statement as "shocking" and vowed, "He hasn't heard the last of us. High-energy reaction have just as much a chance of happening as any other. Grubbs's evil exergonocentrist demagoguery demands retraction." Nothing has also received reports from reliable sources that Grubbs has received death threats from both the Brotherhood for Hybridization Freedom and the Carbonic Liberation Front, left-wing propentavalent reactionist groups.

In a response to the same event, the Coalition for Traditional Carbon Valence made public this statement: "We applaud Professor Grubbs for his courageous stand against the poison of quintuple bonds."

Professor Grubbs was unavailable for comment after the lecture as his office refused to return phone calls.

Caltech Security stated that in order to maintain a suitable atmosphere for study and research it would investigate the matter to the fullest extent of its capabilities.

(Information in this story gathered by reporters on fat expense account.)

Re:Grubbs is great (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723330)

licking asses? my father is also great.

Re:Grubbs is great (1)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724062)

It's been a LOOOONG time since I took my chemistry class, so I can't seem to figure out exactly what you are talking about. What is quintuply-bonded carbon? Is this one of those jokes like dihydrogen monoxide [dhmo.org]?

Re:Grubbs is great (4, Informative)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724194)

What is quintuply-bonded carbon? Is this one of those jokes like dihydrogen monoxide?

Nope. Carbon can only form 4 bonds at a time. During the course of a reaction, there may be short-lived meta-stable carbon species with only 3 bonds, or reactive intermediates (i.e. unstable things that are a transition state between two more stable forms) that have 3 bonds plus one bond that's half made and one bond that's half broken, but there aren't any forms with a full 5 bonds. Undergraduates taking their first Organic test, though, are apt to draw such quintuply bonded carbons and thus get answers wrong on their tests.

Prof. Grubbs always warns his students not to make that mistake before their first test, and even goes into a mini-rant on the topic much like the one in the article. I wouldn't be surprised if the "This reaction doesn't have a chance in hell of happening" were a direct quote. The rant is very memorable, and I'm sure that everyone who took Organic from him would remember it. Despite this, many students will go on to make exactly the mistake that he warned them against, which I assume is the reason that he's so vehement about it.

Re:Grubbs is great (1)

suchire (638146) | more than 8 years ago | (#13725230)

It's been found that carbon can, however, be pseudo-hypervalent via a three-center two-electron bond. It's nearly equivalent to having hypervalent carbon, since the molecule becomes symmetric. Carbonium-carbenium chemistry is really interesting...

Re:Grubbs is great (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13724373)

I second that. I am the original submitter and also an undergrad at Caltech.

Funniest thing in that Ch 41a class was when he was demonstrating some reactions. He mixed H2 and O2 together and threw a catalyst and a spark in there. It was the loudest sound ever to resonate the lecture hall. Then he got another bottle and threw still more. He did it yet a third time, and this time, I wised up and ran from my front row seat to the back of the auditorium.

Great guy.

Re:Grubbs is great (1)

rdwald (831442) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724901)

WTF are you talking about? Ch 41 is Organic Chemistry (though if you mean one term of it, I guess it could have a more specific name), and there's no such publication as the Nothing. There's the BFD and the Fishing Quarterly, but that's about it for humorous publications. (Unless you want to include the Tech's comically bad production values...but I digress.) Anyway, what year did you graduate?

Re:Grubbs is great (1)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 8 years ago | (#13725263)

At the time I was taking the class (1990) the formal title of Ch41 was "Chemistry of Covalent Compounds", though everyone called it Organic Chemistry informally. Nothing was a completely unofficial publication put together by Zach Berger and DA Kornreich. They just wrote stuff, photocopied it, and left the copies out where people could find them. Nothing seems to have died when their courseload started to increase; I don't remember it coming out at all by my senior year.

Re:Grubbs is great (1)

rdwald (831442) | more than 8 years ago | (#13725848)

I guess that makes sense. I'm a current junior, and recall taking Ch 41a with Grubbs last year. Sorry for being confrontational.

Oh Its the Other Metathesis (-1, Offtopic)

Evil W1zard (832703) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723318)

If they were giving an award out for phonetic metathesis then they would have to include GW Bush for the amount of time he has said "nucular" instead of nuclear.

From Wikipedia Phonetic Metathesis if interested:

asterix for asterisk
comfterble for comfortable
foilage for foliage
intregal for integral
julary for jewelry
nucular for nuclear
realator for realtor
revelant for relevant

Actual news for nerds? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723329)

What? Real information for nerds?

Bring back the "I love Google" stories!

Embarassed of a Nobel prize? (5, Interesting)

n01 (693310) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723347)

That's what Yves Chauvin is.

He wants to live reclusively, and doesn't plan to go to Sweden to receive his medal.

Source: http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/mensch/0,1518,3 78142,00.html [spiegel.de]
translation: http://babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/trurl_pag econtent?lp=de_en&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.spiegel.de% 2Fwissenschaft%2Fmensch%2F0%2C1518%2C378142%2C00.h tml [altavista.com]

Re:Embarassed of a Nobel prize? (2, Funny)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723500)

He'll still mention it when chatting up women, though. That's the French for you.

Re:Embarassed of a Nobel prize? (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724880)

Right, like what else are you going to say when chatting up women when you're an organic chemistry geek ?

Re:Embarassed of a Nobel prize? (3, Insightful)

DeeSnider (899643) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723614)

That article was kind of sad to me. The guy seemed still in grief from his wife's death, and annoyed that 30 years after the fact tons of reporters started knocking on his door practically unannounced. Can't say I blame him. I wouldn't want that kind of sudden publicity now, much less at 74 for something I did half my life ago.

But as Sideshow Bob says... (5, Funny)

wernst (536414) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723369)

Yes, yes, that's very interesting and all, but what I want to know is who won the Nobel Prize this year for "Attempted Chemistry?"

Re:But as Sideshow Bob says... (4, Funny)

kbrosnan (880121) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723475)

You can find out tommorow when the IgNoble awards are released.
http://www.improb.com/ig/2005/2005-details.html [improb.com]

Last year the Chem Award went to Coca-Cola Co. of Great Britain for turning H20 into a cancer causing material.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,3604,11 74127,00.html [guardian.co.uk]

These guys are idiots and have the IQ of wet shit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723376)

Nobel prizes are garbage and an embarrassment to all who receive them. Oh, and this site sucks. Get some real news on here not this trash! NEXT!

Metathesis is like swinging (2, Funny)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723381)

"Metathesis can be compared to a dance in which the couples change partners."

Whoo hoo! Grubbs, Shrock and Chauvin have done a great service to married SlashDotters.

Both of them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723841)

no text

guess what !! (-1, Offtopic)

garaged (579941) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723443)

My linux distro has had postgres and mysql for years !

Re:guess what !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723461)

Uhhhh....Congratulations???

My, aren't you clever now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723506)

I'd just like to be the first to congratulate you on being a complete dumbass!!

Get some priorities! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723450)

There are thousands of dead or dying, lazy ass, welfare check grabbing niggers down in New Orleans that need your help and you are talking about Nobel prizes? Get your priorities straight!

quote (1)

illuminix (456294) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723497)


Prizes are for children.

-- Charles Ives, upon being given, but refusing, the
                                      Pulitzer prize

Re:quote (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724129)

No, they are for self-promotion. He seems to have understood that quite well, since you're still quoting him. ;)

No Theory, no equations?-I am disappointed! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723526)

They used to have the good habit of giving Nobel Prizes in Chemistry for physical chemistry, clean spectroscopical experiments, nice theories with lots of equations, sophisticated mathematics, quantum theories etc. Many physicists, not olny chemists, magaged to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Not anymore, now smelly, organic chemistry and biochemistry grab everything! Think urine and meat and blood and saliva analyses and other gross things! I am VERY disappointed!

Re:No Theory, no equations?-I am disappointed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13724118)

On the contrary, three prizes in the last 10 years involve plenty of P-chem.

2002: Wuthrich (NMR), Tanaka and Fenn (mass spectrometry)
1999: Zewail (femtosecond spectrscopy)
1998: Kohn and Pople (quantum mechanics and DFT, all theory)

Well deserved (1, Funny)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723530)

>> This represents a great step forward for "green chemistry",

Wow they must be smart, mine always comes out an icky brown colour.

Re:Well deserved (1)

w.timmeh (906406) | more than 8 years ago | (#13725657)

Icky brown?

Well, was it supposed to be a white powder, white crystals or a very pale yellow goo? We are talking about organic chemistry, after all.

awesome potential (5, Interesting)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723539)

These are spectacular reactions: they allow for all sorts of neat syntheses if you can just form terminal alkenes, which isn't too hard. The systems aren't horribly abusive to most side-chains so you don't have to spend lots of time (and reduce your yield) protecting everything in sight.

I think it's interesting how many nobel prizes have been given for work on the C=C bond: Diels-Alder, Wittig, reduction, oxidation... I think that more nobels have been given for x-ray techniques than anything else, but this must be well up there. (Of course that depends on how broadly you classify your groupings.)

But this particular synthesis is already producing some amazing results in bioactive materials, and it should be a strong industrial technique, given its apparent robustness. Back when I was doing organic chemistry, I was trying to make a weird cyclopropene using a synthesis that was multi-step and very low yield. I wish I'd read about this.

Re:awesome potential (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724054)

I would personally like to shake your hand, if only I could. I had to scroll down almost to the bottom to do it, but at least I managed to find one non-idiotic post on this topic. Ironic, isn't it, that so many Nobel winners are Americans?

Re:awesome potential (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724208)

Americans produce more stuff than anyone else. That means pollution, noise, and trash, as well as brilliant chemistry. Unfortunately, in the last twenty or so years, we seem to be doing a lot better on the pollution, noise, and idiotic comments side than the superb inventions side...

Re:awesome potential (3, Informative)

k98sven (324383) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724497)

Ironic, isn't it, that so many Nobel winners are Americans?

Surely you're joking?

The USA has about 200 (give or take) laureates (counted as ones at US universities). And a population of 295 million. 0.67 per million.

Switzerland: 28 and 7.5 million population : 3.7 per million.
Sweden: 29 and 9 million. 3.2 per million.
Norway: 11 and 4.5 million. 2.4 per million.
Austria: 21 and 8 million. 2.6 per million.
Denmark: 13 and 5.5 million. 2.3 per million.
Germany: 89 and 82 million 1.1 per million.
Netherlands: 16 and 16. One in a million.
France: 49 and 60 million. 0.8 per million.
Belgium: 8 and 10.5 million. 0.76 per million.
Italy: 19 and 58 million. 0.3 per million.
Japan: 12 and 127 million. 0.1 per million.

Call it bias or whatever you want. But the US certainly isn't overrepresented.
All figures from doing a simple laureate-search [nobelprize.org], so they're all approximate, and refer to country of residence, not birth.

Re:awesome potential (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724871)

Call it bias or whatever you want. But the US certainly isn't overrepresented.

Until there's a Nobel Prize for Creationism and Intelligent Design, that is. We'll be filling our own children's heads with crap as we import our scientists and engineers from elsewhere.

Re:awesome potential (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724964)

You'd have to cross reference this with the funding of those universities...

In lots of places universities are state funded, so they aren't as wealthy as the ones in the US.

Re:awesome potential (1)

the gnat (153162) | more than 8 years ago | (#13726164)

You'd have to cross reference this with the funding of those universities... In lots of places universities are state funded, so they aren't as wealthy as the ones in the US.

The majority of US academic scientists, however, receive significant amounts of money (in many cases, all of their funding) from the government, regardless of whether they work at a private or public university. It's worth pointing out that the US has traditionally (over the last half-century) poured tons of money into basic research, to a greater extent than many European countries that have almost entirely public educational systems.

Re:awesome potential (1)

Mark of THE CITY (97325) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724517)

weird cyclopropene

Doesn't that ring have a lot of strain on it? No wonder the overall reaction was low-yield. Were you using some sort of host-guest approach?

Re:awesome potential (2, Interesting)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724693)

A lot of strain, yeah.

I was in an advanced organic synthesis class. The project was "make something new. Preferably by an unusual synthesis." My first project is not discussable these days, given the current political climate, but my second project was making a cyclopropene, turning it into a cyclohexene (!), and then turning THAT into a spiro compound with one six and one seven membered ring. (!!!) It was way out there on the weirdness scale, but the problem was that the cyclopropene was, as one might expect, very suseptible to polymerization, so I mostly ended up making round-bottom flasks full of solid brown tar. I could dig up the papers from which I was working, but this was, uh, 15 years ago (eeeek!) and I can't remember all the details off the top of my head. I can't imagine what one could do with a metathesis reaction, although I suspect you'd spend most of your time just synthesizing the catalyst. Most of those look like boogers to make, and not very many were/are commercially available (and those that are probably cost hundreds of dollars a gram.)

Re:awesome potential (3, Interesting)

frozenraisin (23152) | more than 8 years ago | (#13725308)

I'm pretty sure you can't make cyclopropenes with metathesis. The thermodynamics of that particular reaction are against you. The 1,4 diene starting material is often unreactive for transition metal catalyzed processes due to catalyst inhibition. Cyclopropenes, at least these days, are best prepared using rhodium(II) catalyzed cyclopropenation of alkynes.

Re:awesome potential (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 8 years ago | (#13725427)

I was hoping to use cyclopropenes as the starting materials and do wonderful and exotic things with them, rather than make them. I've made them already, and it sucked. Stupid rhodium catalysts.

Good Show (2, Interesting)

Jim_Callahan (831353) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723552)

I like Nobel Prizes in Chem. They're usually actually important discoveries, as evidenced by the fact that chemists use them constantly two decades after their formulation. The literature-type prizes, I'm still not so sure about.

Re:Good Show (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724055)

The literature-type prizes award people who help advance one other of human's necessities - the need to be entertained and inspired.

Ob. (0, Troll)

kurt_ram (906111) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723579)

Obligatory reply just to increase reply count so that the Chemistry Geeks trolling /. dont feel bad about the reply count.

Who got 50% and which of them get 25% ??? (1, Interesting)

Ossifer (703813) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723630)

According to Nobel rules, the prize be be 100% to one person, 50-50% amongst two winners, or 50-25-25% if three. I haven't been able to determine from the news stories which of them gets the 50%... Anyone know? Probably the French guy...

Re:Who got 50% and which of them get 25% ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723840)

They will each receive one third of the prize.

Re:Who got 50% and which of them get 25% ??? (1)

Ossifer (703813) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723874)

As I stated above, it is not possible for them each to receive 1/3.

Re:Who got 50% and which of them get 25% ??? (3, Informative)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724075)

Are you sure about that? The laureates for the Chemistry prize for this year are listed here [nobelprize.org]; each is noted as receiving 1/3 of the prize. I think you may be confused by the fact that a single prize can be split to honor two (and no more) different achievements in the same year.

An example of that is here [nobelprize.org]. Notice that one guy got half the prize, while two others split the remaining half. It was like half a prize was awarded for the soft-ionization MS work, which one person received, and half a prize for the NMR work, which was split between two people. No more than three persons total may split a prize though- you can't have a prize split 4x25% or 1x50%+3x16.7%. As science has become more of a team effort and an international enterprise, virtually every science Nobel given out recently has honored the maximum of three. The Nobel Foundation statute for shared prizes may be found here [nobelprize.org].

Re:Who got 50% and which of them get 25% ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13724152)

from the nobel prize site [nobelprize.org]:

A rule was added that in no case may the prize be divided between more than three persons (one-third to each Laureate, alternatively one-half to one of the Laureates and one-quarter to each of the other two).

A Chem Nobel Prize that actually goes to chemists! (5, Interesting)

Jonathan (5011) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723641)

It's interesting that this year the chemistry nobel prize actually goes to chemists this year -- the last two years it went to molecular biologists...

Re:A Chem Nobel Prize that actually goes to chemis (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724112)

Yeah, the really BIG molecules have cornered the market on sex appeal, it seems. Still, there aren't too many things in science that are more challenging than a total synthesis of a complex natural product ("small" molecules by molecular biology standards) with a dozen or so chiral centers...

Re:A Chem Nobel Prize that actually goes to chemis (1)

k98sven (324383) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724226)

What the heck does it matter who it goes to? It's the discovery that counts, not the academic background of the person who made it.

Or don't you consider biochem to be part of chemistry? Because that's a pretty narrow-minded view of chemistry, especially considering how it's the area where the biggest things are happening.

Re:A Chem Nobel Prize that actually goes to chemis (1)

Jonathan (5011) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724680)

Well, I'm a genomicist myself, and feel I have more in common with biochemists than I do with chemists -- it's not that I don't feel respect for biochemistry -- but to me chenistry is about general principles of chemical reactions, just like physics is about general principles of matter and energy. Of course, things like proteins certainly need to obey physical and chemical laws, but discoveries of how proteins work, as in last year's chemistry nobel, while certainly of great importance, don't really tell us any new basic facts about chemistry itself.

Re:A Chem Nobel Prize that actually goes to chemis (1)

k98sven (324383) | more than 8 years ago | (#13725006)

-- but to me chenistry is about general principles of chemical reactions, just like physics is about general principles of matter and energy.

Well, that's your problem then.. it's a narrow view. By that rationale, you would have very very few Nobel prize winners in either Physics or Chemistry.

E.g. this year's Physics prize doesn't teach us anything new about the "general principles". It's all explainable in terms of Quantum Mechanics and Maxwell's equations. That doesn't mean it's not physics.

Of course, things like proteins certainly need to obey physical and chemical laws, but discoveries of how proteins work, as in last year's chemistry nobel, while certainly of great importance, don't really tell us any new basic facts about chemistry itself.

Neither does this prize. All of chemistry is explainable within the framework of quantum mechanics. It's like complaining that the Physics prize isn't teaching us anything new about QM (or newtonian mechanics for that matter).

Besides which, that's bull. Catalysis is catalysis and it pertains to perhaps the most central part of chemistry there is, namely "How do chemical reactions occur". Why would it be less interesting to chemistry just because an enzyme is doing the catalysis?

In fact, it's just the other way around! Enzyme catalysis is an area which is vastly more complex and vastly less understood than traditional catalysts. Not to mention there is significant cross-over between the areas of metalloorganic catalysts (such as this prize) and enzyme catalysis. Try googling for "biomimetic catalyst".

Re:A Chem Nobel Prize that actually goes to chemis (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 8 years ago | (#13725435)

Well, sure a genomicist would have more in common with a biochemist than a chemist, just as a biochemist would have more in common with a chemist than an astronomer. There is essentially a continuum of physical and natural sciences, and biochemistry tends to fall in-between. Biochemistry itself is a pretty broad term, covering everything from splicing genes into plasmids and growing vats of bacteria and churning out recombinant proteins, to studying electrical conductivity of DNA molecules. The former is fairly separated from traditional chemistry, and the latter is almost indistinguisable from pure physical chemistry.

You can find biochemistry programs in biology, medical, and chemistry departments - often in the same university. Each tends to cater to a general region on the physical-biological continuum.

Chemistry is a very broad field, as is biochemistry. And you really can't understand metabolism without a good understanding of kinetics and thermodynamics - two very physical subjects. One way of looking at life is just a bunch of catalysts that carefully control the reaction of oxidizing and reducing agents in their enviornment, using the resulting energy to replicate, get around, and generally do useful things like speculating on what life actually is... :)

Re:A Chem Nobel Prize that actually goes to chemis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13724625)


The thought of it! the prize went to people who didn't have a guild card! The fact that they did top notch science is irrelevant. Someone should have checked their credentials first and leave their important discoveries to be looked at a later stage...

Nobel Web Site link has cool animation (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13723925)

that actually shows what they mean by the Dance of chemicals as they change partners.

Quite nifty, provided you have a flash plug-in.

Heros (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13723994)

In the end, the work these people do will mean much more than who put a puck in a net, a ball in a basket, or a jaunty tune in the public's ear.

If mankind has any sort of saviour these days, it's these sort of men: scientists who give us the tools to cure blindness, disease, hunger, and poverty. I'd probably be dead today without technology; the survival rate for near-blind kids was pretty grim just a few centuries ago. Today, thanks to powerful eyeglasses, and later on, laser eye surgury, I've got a normal life.

It's nice to see that these scientists are finally getting some recognition for the great work they do. I wish more scientists got more recognition, everyday, for the contributions to our collective knowledge and future happiness that they quietly make they make on a daily basis, despite a public who is apathetic or hostile to their efforts.

To all the scientists out there on slashdot, thanks, and keep up the good work!
--
AC

Re:Heros (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13725312)

That's great! Of course they haven't actually come with a cure for anything you mentioned, your eye glasses were invented by a god fearing Christian centuries ago and the laser surgery you had is going to give you some really bad scar tissue problems - but hey, go science!!!

The Nobel Prize should really go to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13724022)

The Nobel Prize for Chemistry really ought to go to the doctors who treated Señor Taco after he got the clap from those hookers in Juarez a few weeks ago.

They had to concoct a special formula for him because they had never seen such a bad case of the clap before.

Dumbing a complicated subject down (5, Interesting)

aphexbrett (220057) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724126)

"Metathesis can be compared to a dance in which the couples change partners."

This has to be the worst quote I've ever heard describing Grubbs' catalyst. When I woke up this morning and heard that Grubbs had won the Nobel I wondered what the brief description of his work was going to be, and I honestly have to say I was amazingly disappointed with it. However this is part of a larger problem that I've encountered often especially on this webpage, how do you explain complicated subjects to the uninformed masses? How do you explain detailed chemistry to computer geeks? In some cases a pretty simplistic idea is transferred successfully, but this is the exception rather than the rule. IMO, the comments left about the story tend to further complicate the matter.

Having use chemistry developed by Grubbs I'll provide a brief description of his remarkable achievements in the field of organic synthesis (one of the serveral fields Grubbs has impacted [Grubbs is however an organometallic / inorganic chemist]). Organic synthesis is the study of building complext molecules from simple starting materials. The "goal" of organic synthesis is to make compounds with biological activity, e.g. new drugs. Many of the target compounds are initially isolated from nature, chemist then try to replicate them in the lab environment. One of the catalysts Grubbs developed allowed for synthesis of a particularly common structural feature (I'm thinking of cyclic structures, there are more, I know) and it opened whole new doors in terms of synthetic routes that one could take to complete a molecule. It was fairly evident in the mid 90s that his work had a huge impact on the synthetic community and it was apparent he would win the nobel, it was just a matter of time.

Re:Dumbing a complicated subject down (1)

danila (69889) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724567)

How do you explain detailed chemistry to computer geeks? In some cases a pretty simplistic idea is transferred successfully, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

Well, you just answered your own question. You start from the basics that are understood by your intended audience and explain using accessible language, but without oversimplification. Each next concept following from the previous you gradually get to explain the topic at hand, like you brilliantly did. If more space/time is available, each step can be explained in more detail, but the magic rule is to start at the level of your audience (readers) and go from there. Intelligent people are capable of following the explanation and understanding arbitrarily complex concept.

Thanks again for the great explanation. If only everyone was this considerate.

Re:Dumbing a complicated subject down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13724915)

Perhaps you just don't understand the complexities of a dance in which couples change partners!

Re:Dumbing a complicated subject down (1)

yuriwho (103805) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724958)

They should shave used an analogy like this:

a conga line moving through a party, with a guy on the end of the line selectively inserting pretty women into his place at the end on the line, and then grabbing their waists and following the chain until another suitable female is found to insert. This continues until all suitable females have been added to the line.

That at least accurately cartoons the ROMP reaction.

Re:Dumbing a complicated subject down (1)

frozenraisin (23152) | more than 8 years ago | (#13725377)

"Metathesis can be compared to a dance in which the couples change partners."

I found this particular description of metathesis to be the most accurate statement. If look at the overall transformation and consider each dancer to be an olefinic carbon, that's exactly what metathesis does. It's probably one of the easiest chemical transformations to explain to non-chemists.

But who won for "Attempted Chemistry" this year? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724245)

I'll bet it was Pedro. Every since he got that truck he's been so damn cocky!

-Eric

Pronounciation (1)

AFairlyNormalPerson (721898) | more than 8 years ago | (#13724935)

TFA says that the word "metathesis" comes from the words "meta" and "thesis", so the reader could easily read the word as met.a.THE.sis (long E and emphasis on 3rd syllable); however, the only pronounciation I have ever heard is me.TaTH.e.sis (short a and emphasis on the 2nd syllable). Just FYI.

Prof Grubbs in New Zealand (1)

w.timmeh (906406) | more than 8 years ago | (#13726253)

I just spoke to my chemistry lecturer (University of Otago), after we briefly covered olefin metathesis in our organic course this morning. Apparently he is off to have a meal with Prof Grubbs in Christchurch, who will be giving a talk at Otago on Monday.
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