(Pics adopted from Nobelprize.org and Answers.com)
There is one common thread connecting this year's Nobel awards in chemistry, physics, and peace. They deal with 'solids' of various kinds. Lemme explain..
A German chemist, Prof. Gerhard Ertl, won for his work on 'surface chemistry'. Most of you would imagine a chemical reaction as colorful events happening in glass vessels but, a great deal of chemistry happens right in front of our eyes every day, detailed study of which is extremely difficult. Examples are rusting of metallic objects and fading of clothes on fabrics. The smoke coming out of motor vehicles is cleaned up by filtering off toxic gases using special metal coatings in the exhaust pipe. The whole area of catalysts that don't dissolve in any solvent, is driven by surface reactions. Prof. Ertl has been studying them using sophisticated techniques.
Two European scientists have won it for their discovery of a unique property called 'giant magnetoresistance' (GMR) or 'colossal magnetoresistance'. This is an exclusive solid state property.This property is used in 'magnetic writing' which is the basis for all the magnetic disks, data writing on disks, etc. Their discovery and subsequent development by IBM scientists helped a lot in the miniaturization of memory parts.
Prof. C. N. R. Rao, India's eminent scientist, has worked quite a lot on both these two fields, especially in the past 15 years. I am sure he would be very proud of the recognition given to the areas close to his heart.
Al Gore and the 'Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change' (IPCC) have won it together. A lot of their concern has been towards the polar ice melting (the 'solid' connection). Will Al Gore's win affect the race for the candidature for the next year's presidential elections? We have to wait and see..
A proud moment for Indians.. The chairman of IPCC is an Indian, Mr. Rajendra Pachauri, who is heading IPCC for over 5 years now. Rediff has a story on this, in which it has put him alongside individual Nobel-winning Indians, like Tagore, Raman, Teresa, Chandrasekhar and Sen. IMHO, that comparison is absolutely out-of-place.. It will be sensible if the media doesn't go overboard on Mr. Pachauri. He himself has said that it is the victory of IPCC, not his. In the official Nobel prise website, there is mention only of the organization IPCC but not any individual, including its present chairman. I feel it is justified.
Congrats to all the winners!!!