Nobel men who deserve recognition

The controversial awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to first-term US president Barack Obama has served to largely overshadow this year’s other Nobel laureates.  Regardless of the questionable choice for the peace distinction, the awardees in the fields of physics, chemistry, and medicine have demonstrated great merit in their respective fields, having made discoveries well worthy of Nobel recognition.
The prize in physics was split between two outstanding research projects.  The first was given to Charles K. Kao “for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication.”  Dr. Kao’s 1966 work in the field of fiber optic technology has led to many practical innovations today.  The global communications networks wholly dependent upon fiber optics for information transmission, such as the Internet, were made possible by Dr. Kao’s calculations.
The other recipients of the physics prize are Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith of Bell Laboratories for their groundbreaking work in digital imaging technology.  In 1969 they were the first researchers to develop a successful imaging technology using a charge-coupled device (CCD) as a digital sensor, resulting in the development of the first digital camera.
The prize in chemistry was given to Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz, and Ada E. Yonath.  Using the innovative method of X-ray crystallography to map the entire atomic structure of the ribosome, these researchers have succeeded in vastly increasing the scientific community’s understanding of the structure and function of the crucial organelle.  The ribosome is the “protein factory” in every cell, making individual protein from instructions in DNA, and thus controls the internal chemistry of organisms.  The crystallographic map of the ribosome allows the researchers to assess how various new antibiotics bind with the ribosome, which has proven very helpful in the development of new antibiotic treatments.
Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider, and Jack W. Szostak are the recipients of this year’s prize in the field of medicine.  The awarded scientists have discovered how chromosomes are copied during cell division without any degradation.  They have found that the answer lies with the telomeres, the ends of the chromosomes, and telomerase, the enzyme that forms them.  The lengthy investigation, spanning a period from 1980 to 1984, involved two key stages of research.  First, Dr. Blackburn and Dr. Szostak discovered that it is a unique DNA sequence in the telomeres that protects the chromosome from degradation.  Next, Dr. Blackburn and Dr. Greider recognized the enzyme that makes these unique sequences, telomerase.
The research of all these scientists have contributed greatly to the furtherance of human knowledge and development.  From breakthroughs in communications to atomic mapping, these scientists are well deserving of Nobel recognition.