Three in U.S. win chemistry Nobel for computer models

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Three U.S.-based scientists won this year's Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for developing powerful computer models that researchers use to understand complex chemical interactions and create new drugs.

Research in the 1970s by Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel has led to programs that unveil chemical processes such as how exhaust fumes are purified or how photosynthesis takes place in green leaves, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said. That kind of knowledge makes it possible to find the best design for things such as new drugs, solar cells or catalytic converters for cars.

The strength of the winning work is that it can be used to study all kinds of chemistry, the academy said.

"This year's prize is about taking the chemical experiment to cyberspace," said Staffan Normark, the academy's secretary.

The three will share the $1.2 million prize.

All three scientists became U.S. citizens. Karplus and his family came to the United States as Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938. The 83-year-old U.S. and Austrian citizen splits his time between the University of Strasbourg, France, and Harvard University.

Levitt, 66, was born in South Africa and is a British, U.S. and Israeli citizen. He is a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Warshel, 72, was born in Israel and is a U.S. and Israeli citizen affiliated with the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

When scientists wanted to simulate complex chemical processes on computers, they used to have to choose between software that was based on quantum physics, which applies on the scale of an atom, or classical Newtonian physics, which operates at larger scales. The academy said the three laureates developed computer models that "opened a gate between these two worlds."

The Nobel Prize in literature will be announced today, the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday and the economics prize on Monday.

All Nobel Prizes will be presented to the winners on Dec. 10.

Associated Press

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Three U.S.-based scientists won this year's Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for developing powerful computer models that researchers use to understand complex chemical interactions and create new drugs.

Research in the 1970s by Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel has led to programs that unveil chemical processes such as how exhaust fumes are purified or how photosynthesis takes place in green leaves, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said. That kind of knowledge makes it possible to find the best design for things like new drugs, solar cells or catalytic converters for cars.

The strength of the winning work is that it can be used to study all kinds of chemistry, the academy said.

"This year's prize is about taking the chemical experiment to cyberspace," said Staffan Normark, the academy's secretary.

The three will share the $1.2 million prize.

All three scientists became U.S. citizens. Karplus came to the U.S. with his family as Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938. The 83-year-old U.S. and Austrian citizen splits his time between the University of Strasbourg, France, and Harvard University.

Levitt, 66, was born in South Africa and is a British, U.S. and Israeli citizen. He is a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Warshel, 72, was born in Israel and is a U.S. and Israeli citizen affiliated with the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

When scientists wanted to simulate complex chemical processes on computers, they used to have to choose between software that was based on quantum physics, which applies on the scale of an atom, or classical Newtonian physics, which operates at larger scales. The academy said the three laureates developed computer models that "opened a gate between these two worlds."

The Nobel Prize in literature will be announced today, the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday and the economics prize on Monday.

All Nobel Prizes will be presented to the winners on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.

Three in U.S. win chemistry Nobel for computer models 10/09/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 11:19pm]

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