Monday, September 3, 2007

Former Vice President Al Gore was nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize

Former Vice President Al Gore was nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his wide-reaching efforts to draw the world’s attention to the dangers of global warming...
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Roger D. Kornberg - Chemistry 2006

Roger D. Kornberg was born in St. Louis, MO in 1947. He got his PhD from Stanford University and now teaches biochemistry as the Mrs.George A. Winzer Professor in Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. In 2006, Kornberg received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, thirty-seven years after his father, Arthur Kornberg, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Both Roger Kornberg’s parents, as well as one of his two brothers, are biochemists, and Roger married an Israeli scientist, Yahlo Lorch, a Stanford professor of structural biology. The couple spend almost half the year in their apartment in Jerusalem, where Roger advises his research team over the Internet. Kornberg has served as a visiting professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for the past 20 years.

Roger Kornberg received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his groundbreaking work on transcription, a process of DNA replication. The following press release from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences describes Kornberg's work:

In order for our bodies to make use of the information stored in the genes, a copy must first be made and transferred to the outer parts of the cells. There it is used as an instruction for protein production – it is the proteins that in their turn actually construct the organism and its function. The copying process is called transcription. Roger Kornberg was the first to create an actual picture of how transcription works at a molecular level in the important group of organisms called eukaryotes (organisms whose cells have a well-defined nucleus). Mammals like ourselves are included in this group, as is ordinary yeast.

Transcription is necessary for all life. This makes the detailed description of the mechanism that Roger Kornberg provides exactly the kind of "most important chemical discovery" referred to by Alfred Nobel in his will.

If transcription stops, genetic information is no longer trans­ferred into the different parts of the body. Since these are then no longer renewed, the organism dies within a few days. This is what happens in cases of poisoning by certain toadstools, like the death cap, since the toxin stops the transcription process. Understanding of how transcription works also has a fundamental medical importance. Disturbances in the transcription process are involved in many human illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and various kinds of inflammation.

The capacity of stem cells to develop into different types of specific cells with well-defined functions in different organs, is also linked to how the transcription is regulated. Understanding more about the transcription process is therefore important for the development of different therapeutic applications of stem cells.

Edmund S. Phelps - Economy 2006

Edmund Phelps was born in 26 July 1933 in Evanston, Illinois. He is an economics professor at Columbia University and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2006. The Nobel Prize was awarded for his groundbreaking working on examining the role of expectations in the Labour market and also factors that influence economic growth.

Brought up in New York Phelps went to study at Amherst College in 1951. Here he studied Economics, and after graduating from Amherst he went to Yale as a post graduate. At Yale he came into contact and was taught by some of the great economists James Tobin and Thomas Schelling (who were later to be awarded the nobel prize.) It was also at Yale that Phelps was introduced to the importance of expectations in labour market decisions. This was due to lecturers such as William Fellner. After a brief spell working for the RAND Corporation. Phelps returned to academia which gave him the opportunity to spend more time in research.

In the 1960s he produced a seminal research paper on factors influencing economic growth. In particular he examined the role of savings in influencing economic growth now and in the future. The paper was based on the “Golden Savings Rule” He noted that higher savings ratios in the present enable higher levels of investment and therefore higher economic growth in the future. However future beneficiaries of economic growth are not able to influence decisions now, therefore often in society there is insufficient savings and investment in human capital. This analysis is particularly significant given the US current low savings rate and inability to invest in the future.

Later work of Phelps concentrated on examining the Keynesian Phillips Curve. Phelps wanted to look at the problem of wage expectations and information asymmetries in explaining weakness in the model. Research by Phelps concluded that when workers and firms base their decisions on adaptive expectations wages are frequently higher than the market clearing level. This causes involuntary unemployment. Furthermore it was the research of Phelps that suggested the trade off between inflation and unemployment suggested by Keynes was only viable in the short run. In the long run there was no permanent trade off. Basically he argued that the natural rate of unemployment was independent of the inflation rate. Thus expansionary fiscal policies would be unlikely to reduce unemployment in the long term. This research was made more significant by the experience of the 1970s which led to stagflation.

In the late 1970s Phelps also spent some time at Stanford where he became acquainted with John Rawls the leading philosopher on social justice. This encouraged Phelps to broaden his economic interests and examine issues of Economic Justice.

In October 2006 Phelps was awarded the Nobel Peace prize. This was mainly in recognition for his work on the Phillips curve and a better understanding of the natural rate of unemployment. Professor Tyler Cowen commented:

"his 1960s macro work was true, important, and extremely influential. The capital theory work endures and provides a foundation for subsequent theory. The overall scope is impressive, and Phelps's concerns never strayed far from the real world." Cowen concluded by suggesting the award to Phelps meant that: "The big questions still matter. Unemployment, economic growth, labour markets, capital accumulation, fairness, discrimination, and justice across the generations are indeed worthy of economic attention."


Orhan Pamuk - Literature 2006

Orhan Pamuk is a novelist who comes from Turkey and got the Novel Prize award in 2006.

His work begins at realistic novel tradition and changes into storytelling with postmodernist strategies.

He was born and spent majority of his life in Istanbul which had an influence on Pamuk’s personality and his writing, such as double identity of the town.

Same as his father and grandfather, he studied architecture at Istanbul University of Technology, but he didnt finish it. However in 1977 he received a degrese in journalism at the University of Istanbul.

Pamuk’s first novel- family saga called Cevdet Bey ve Ogullari from 1982 was awarded in 1983 with Orhan Kemal Novel Prize.

His second novel called Seissiv ev from 1983 which is telling story from a five different points of view, won the Madarali Novel Prize.

His realist tradition was broken in historical novel called The White Castle from 1985.

Pamuk got married to historian Aylin Turegen in 1982 and they divorced in 2001.

Pamuk was Arthur Miller’s and Herold Pinter’s guide at their Turkey visit in 1985 arranged by PEN in conjunction with the Helsinki Watch Committee.

He visited his fellow at the University of Iowa’s International Writing in 1982.

The first half of Kara kitap (from The Black Book postmodern novel from 1990) was written during his stay at Columbia University. His vision of modern-day Istanbul is similar to Dublin from James Joyce or Günter Grass Danzig. Pamuk is telling mysterious story, he is playing with identities, complex narratives, Sufi mysticism paradoxes and fiction. This book was made into a movie, director was Ömer Kaur.

The storyteller in Yeni Hayat (1995, A New Life) is a young man, whose life is change by a book. The story is a poetic with a fiction power, obsession and false reality concept about mans long bus ride ending by approaching a truck he has been searching for.

Pamuk was very successful in Turkey with murder mystery novel set in 16th century Istanbul called My Name Is Red (1998). There had been 85,000 copies sold in three weeks.

Story jumps from one chapter to another, murdered man violates Islam teaching by creating representational, figurative art.

The political novel Kar (2002, Snow) is telling a story about political refugee and poet named Ka, who has spent 12 years in Germany. He is investigating a wave of young girls suicides in a small Anatolian town of Kars, meets his teenager sweetheart and recover his poetic voice before he gets killed. Snow as awarded with the prestigious Medicis Prize in 2005.

Pamuk was very popular writer in his own country and supposed to get the state artist title but he didnt accept it as he was accused of pleasing Western audiences.

In 2005 Pamuk received the German Book Trade’s Peace Prize. In the same year he was charged with insult of the Turkis Republic and his books were burned at a nationalist demonstration. They dropped the charges in 2006.

Muhammad Yunus - Peace 2006

Grameen bank and its creator Muhammad Yunus has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2006. The Grameen bank provides so called micro credits for real small scale applications and one of them is renewable energy solutions, Grameen Shakti. And as so many small scale solutions they add up to a large impact in numbers and even more so in the lives of the people concerned. Grameen Shakti works with Photovoltaics, PV, wind-power and bio-gas. The PV solutions has been delivered to approximately 5500 projects with a total capacity of 275 kW up to 2001.


It would be reasonable to assume that the Grameen Shakti, who is also dealing with training and Research, through these activities and the Nobel Prize, may leverage much more in the years to come.

It is however not the first time a winner of the Peace Prize has a track record that contains energy issues. Jimmy Carter, former president of the U.S., took initiative to a comprehensive energy programme in which e.g. Solar energy was an important part. His presentation of this to the American People already 1977 (!) is still valid and could be delivered with few changes.

The Right livelihood award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, has also acknowledged energy alternatives e.g. by awarding Amory Lovins already in the early 80’s. Not to mention that several of Nobel Prize award winners in chemistry and physics have both in their science and in the debate come into the subject. One of them being Richard Smalley.