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Encyclopedia about Chemistry


Nobel Prize winners

Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has been awarded to top scientists who have excelled in their fields in the previous year, to those who have done research which benefits mankind the most.

The Swedish chemist and industrial magnate Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) made a name for himself with the invention of dynamite, in the process making a fortune. In his last will and testament, he bequeathed some of that fortune to the founding of a foundation. The Nobel Prize is the oldest award for scientific achievement. It has been awarded since 1901, always on the anniversary of Nobel’s death, December 10. With the exception of a few years (during wars), Nobel prizes have been awarded ever since. Besides a financial reward, a gold medal and certificate are also presented.

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by the Norwegian king in Oslo, while the prizes for culture and the sciences are given by the Swedish king in Stockholm.

The financial prize, part of the overall award, is financed through annual interest earned on the estate of the Nobel Foundation. From 1970, when the award was around 288,000 German marks (DM), the prize rose to 1.8 million DM in 1999.

For scientists, the Nobel prize is a little like being knighted. It is one of, if not the, highest honor that can be bestowed on a scientist.

Year Name Nationality Work
1901 Jacobus Henricus van ´t Hoff Netherlands Discovery of the law of chemical dynamics and osmotic pressure of solutions
1902 Emil H. Fischer Germany Syntheses in the field of sugars and purine bases
1903 Svante A. Arrhenius Sweden Theory of electrolytic dissociation
1904 Sir William Ramsay G. Britain Research on the atmosphere and the discovery of noble gases
1905 Adolf Ritter von Baeyer Germany Organic pigments and hydroaromatic compounds
1906 Henri Moissan France Research on and isolation of flourine
1907 Eduard Buchner Germany Biochemical studies, discovery of cell tissue fermentation
1908 Sir Ernest Rutheford G. Britain Element disintegration, chemistry of radioactive materials
1909 Wilhwlm Ostwald Germany Catalysis, chemical equilibrium and reaction speed
1910 Otto Wallach Germany Alicyclic compounds
1911 Marie Curie France, Poland Discovery of radium and polonium
1912 Victor Grignard,

Paul Sabatier

France Grignard reagents, hydration of organic compounds in the presence of slightly soluble metals
1913 Alfred Werner Switzerland Bonding of atoms in molecules (inorganic chemistry)
1914 Theodore W. Richards USA Determination of atomic mass
1915 Richard Martin Willstätter Germany Research on plant pigments, especially chlorophyll
1916 Not given    
1917 Not given    
1918 Fritz Haber Germany Synthesis of ammonia from elements
1919 Neudělena    
1920 Walther H. Nernst Germany Thermodynamic studies
1921 Frederick Soddy G. Britain Chemistry of radioactive substances, occurrence and nature of isotopes
1922 Francis W. Aston G. Britain Discovery of a great number of isotopes, spectrograhpic atomic mass
1923 Fritz Pregl Austria Microanalysis of organic materials
1924 Neudělena    
1925 Richard A. Zeigmondy Germany,Austria Colloidal chemistry (ultramicroscope)
1926 Theodor Svedberg Sweden Dispersal systems (ultracentrifuge)
1927 Heinrich O. Wieland Germany Production of gall bladder acids
1928 Adolf Windhaus        
1929 Hans von Euler Chelpin Sweden,Germany Studies on the fermentation of sugars and enzymes
  Artur Harden G. Britain  
1930 Hans Fisher Germany Work with blood pigments and plant pigments, synthesis of hemine
1931 Friedrich Bergius Germany Development of experiments and techniques of high pressure chemistry
1932 Irwing Langmuir USA Chemistry of surface activity
1933 Neudělena    
1934 Harold C. Urey USA Discovery of heavy hydrogen (deuterium)
1935 Frédéric Joliot France Synthesis of new radioactive elements (artificial radioactivity)
  Irene Joliot-Curie    
1936 Peter J.W. Debye Germany, Nl Research on dipole moments and diffraction of X-rays and gamma rays in gases
1937 Sir Walter H. Haworth G. Britain Research on hydrocarbons and Vitamin C
  Paul Karrer Switzerland Research on carotines and flavines and Vitamins A and B2
1938 Richard Kuhn Germany Work on carotines and vitamins
1939 Adolf F.J. Butenandt Germany Studies on sexual hormones
  Leopold Ruzicka Switzerland Studies on polymethylene and higher terpenes
1940 Not given    
1941 Not given    
1942 Not given    
1943 George de Hevesy Hungary Use of isotopes as indicators in the study of chemical processes
1944 Otto Hahn Germany Discovery of the splitting of the nucleus of the atom
1945 Arturi I Virtanen FN Discoveries in the fields of agriculture and food chemistry, methods of conservation of foods
1946 John H. Northrop USA Isolation of enzymes and viral proteins in pure form
  Wendell Meredith Stanley    
  James B. Sumner   Crystallization of enzymes
1947 Sir Robert Robinson G. Britain Alkaloid research
1948 Arne W.K. Tiselius Sweden Electrophoretic and adsorption analyses, discovery of serum proteins
1949 William F. Giauque USA Contributions to chemical thermodynamics, characteristics at extremely low temperatures (adiabatic demagnetization)
1950 Kurt Alder Germany Development of synthetic dienes
  Otto P.H. Diels    
1951 Edwin M. MCMillan USA Discovery of chemical transuranium
  Glenn Th. Seaborg    
1952 Archer J.P. Martin G. Britain Invention of chromotography and isolation with the help of chromatography
  Richard L.M. Synge    
1953 Hermann Staudinger Germany Discoveries in the field of macromolecular chemistry
1954 Linus Carl Pauling USA Research on the nature of chemical bonds
1955 Vincent du Vigneaud USA Synthesis of polypeptidic hormones
1956 Sir Cyril N. Hinshelwood G. Britain Mechanisms of chemical reactions
  Nikolaj Semjonov USSR  
1957 Sir Alexander R. Todd G. Britain Studies of nucleotides and their coenzymes
1958 Frederick Sanger G. Britain Structure of proteins, especially insulin
1959 Jaroslav Heyrovský Czecho-slovakia Polarography
1960 William F. Libby USA Use of the C14 isotope in age determination
1961 Melvin Calvin USA Research on the assimilation of acidic carbonic plants (photosynthesis)
1962 John Cowdery Kendrew G. Britain Studies on the structure of globulin proteins
  Max Ferdinand Perutz G.Britain, Austria  
1963 Giulio Natta Italy Chemistry and technology of high polymeric materials
  Karl Ziegler Germany  
1964 Dorothy Crawfoot-Hodgkin G. Britain Determination of the structure of biologically important materials with the help of X-ray equipment
1965 Robert Burns Woodward USA Synthesis of natural materials
1966 Robert S. Mulliken USA Work on chemical bonds and the introduction of electrons into molecules – the theory of electron orbitals
1967 Manfred Eigen Germany Research on very fast chemical reactions
  George Porter G. Britain  
  Ronald G.W.Norrish    
1968 Lars Onsager USA, Norway Studies on thermodynamic irreversible processes
1969 Odd Hassel Norway Conformation theory
  Derek H. Barton G. Britain  
1970 Luis F. Leloir Argentina Discovery of sugars containing nucleotides and their functions in the biosynthesis of hydrocarbons
1971 Gerhard Heizberg Canada Electron structure and geometric models, especially free radicals (molecule spectroscopy)
1972 Christian B. Anfinsen USA Studies on ribonucleases
  Stanford Moore   Discovery of the active centre of ribonucleases
  William H. Stein    
1973 Ernst Otto Fischer Germany Chemistry of sandwich metalorganic compounds
  Geoffrey Wilkinson G. Britain  
1974 Paul J. Flory USA Physical chemistry of macromolecules
1975 John W. Comforth G. Britain Stereochemistry of enzymatically catalysed reactions
  Vladimír Prelog Switzerland, Yug. Research on stereochemistry of organic molecules and their reactions
1976 William N. Lipscomb USA Structure of boran
1977 Ilja Prigogin Belgium Contributions to thermodymanic irreversible processes, especially to the theory of dissipated structures
1978 Peter D. Mirtchell G. Britain Research on biological transmission of energy, development of chemiosmotic theory
1979 Georg Wittig Germany Synthesis of organic compounds boron and phosphorus
Herbert C. Brown USA
1980 Paul Berg USA Work in the biochemistry of nucleic acids, especially hybrid DNA (technology of gene surgery)
  Walter Gilbert   Determination of the order of bases in nucleic acids
  Frederick Sanger G. Britain  
1981 Kenichi Fukui Japan Theory of the progress of chemical reactions (theory of outer orbitals)
  Roald Hoffman USA  
1982 Aaron Klug G. Britain Development of crystallography methods for the decoding of biologically important complexes of nucleic acids and proteins
1983 Henry Taube Canada Reaction mechanisms of electrons, especially in metal complexes
1984 Robert Bruce Merrifield USA Methods of isolation of peptides and proteins
1985 Herbert A. Hauptman USA Development of direct methods for the determination of crystalline structures
  Jerome Karle    
1986 John C. Polanyi Canada Dynamics of basic chemical processes
  Dudley R. Herschbach USA  
  Yuan Tseh Lee    
1987 Donald J. Cram USA Development of a molecule with structurally specific and various uses of high specificity
  Charles J. Pedersen    
  Jean-Marie Lehn France  
1988 Johann Diesenhofer Germany Determination of three dimensional structures of the reaction centre of photosynthesis
  Robert Huber    
  Hartmut Michel    
1989 Sidney Altman Canada Discovery of the catalytic characteristics of RNA
  Thomas Robert Cech USA  
1990 Elias James Corey USA Development of new methods of synthesising complex natural materials (retrosynthetic analysis)
1991 Elias Robert Ernst Switzerland Development of highly specialised nuclear resonance spectography (NMR)
1992 Rudolph A. Marcus USA Contributions to the theory of electron transfer
1993 Kary Banks Mullis USA Discovery of the chain reaction of polymerases (PCR), with whose help copies of DNA can be made
  Michael Smith CAN Development of locally specific mutagenesis
1994 George A. Olah USA Cations of carbons
1995 Paul Crutzen Netherlands Revolutionary discoveries about the mechanisms which lead to the destruction of the ozone layer in higher levels of the atmosphere
  Mario Molina Mexico  
  Frank Sherwood Rowland USA  
1996 Robert F. Curl, Jr USA For the discovery of fulerene
  Sir Harold W. Croto G. Britain  
  Richard E. Smalley USA  
1997 Paul D. Boyer USA Explanation of enzymatic mechanisms which lead to the synthesis of ATP
  John E. Walker G. Britain  
  Jens C. Skou Denmark First discovery of enzyme transport of ions: Na+, K+, ATP
1998 Walter Kohn USA Discovery of theory of functional approximation
  John A. Pople G. Britain USA Development of a way to calculate in quantitative chemistry (Gauss computer program) – methods by which chemical reactions can be exactly determined
1999 Ahmed H. Zewail Egypt Work on femtosecund spectroscopy
2000 Alan J. Heeger   For the discovery of conductive polymers
  Alan G. Macdiamid    
  Hideri Shirakawa    

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The History of Chemistry

Chemical processes known as such were first used long before the mechanisms which caused them to function were known. Many of the developed cultures of the ancient world used even complicated processes and chemical reactions to solve the various and complex dilemmas they faced.

The isolation of copper 5000 years ago may be improbable, but in 3200 B.C. the Egyptians were able to isolate the substance from its ores, with the help of brown coal.

Most of all, the Chinese and Greeks accelerated the development of the natural sciences.

Among other notable accomplishments, many of these ancient peoples were able to come up with complex models of how our world fit together, of what it was composed. The advanced nature of many of these theories can be seen in the fact that it often took later generations many years of scientific inquiry before they were finally able to, often through experiment and calculation, either verify or refute the theories that had been proposed.

The Middle Ages saw a slowdown in scientific advancement, because the Church and its often strong, even overbearing dogmas, refused to allow any doubt to be shed on the generally accepted truths that had been proposed.

At the end of the Middle Ages, however, development began to accelerate once again, and from that time forward, the avalanche of scientific knowledge has only gained strength. Let us reflect on the fact that around the year 1800, there were only a few elements known. In the 200 years that were to follow, however, this number rose to 103. It should be added, however, that this is very likely not a final tally, and that not all existing elements have as yet been discovered. Some of these elements, it should be said, are man-made, and do not occur in nature under normal conditions.

Of course, progress, scientific or otherwise, has to be driven by people, in all of the natural sciences as well as chemistry. Great and revolutionary chemists have walked this Earth, and they have been able to change our world, accelerating its development, with their discoveries. and other scientists from other natural science fields have helped along the way, discovering, rediscovering, probing and studying reality, either proving or refuting previously held theories and hypotheses.

In these modern times, the scientists whose revolutionary accomplishments and discoveries make the most lasting impressions on our society receive the Nobel Prize. These awards are given every year, and represent the highest honour that a scientist, researcher or other expert can attain.

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