Huge Discoveries from 2015 Nobel Prizes

by Rose McCormack

               This year’s Nobel prize winners all made advancements in their fields.  Particularly the winners in the science categories- physics, chemistry and medicine- who made monumental discoveries.

Takaaki Kajita and Arthur McDonald received the Nobel Prize for physics. They discovered that particles called neutrinos have mass. Neutrinos are subatomic particles made when a radioactive material decays, which were previously thought to be undetectable and massless. They can come from the birth and death of stars, and collisions in a particle accelerator. There are three different types of neutrinos; electron, tau and muon neutrinos. The discovery that neutrinos have mass disrupted some previous notions about them. A theory called Standard Model was extremely popular because it was thought to be a fundamental theory about sub-atomic particles. It even predicted all undiscovered sub-atomic particles. However, it relied on the idea that neutrinos have no mass. Kajita and McDonald’s discovery, disproving the Standard Model. Furthermore, because neutrinos have mass, they can change into any of their three types at will,helping them pass through any kind of matter as though it weren’t there, even the. This discovery will help scientists understand how the universe changes in relation to neutrinos, and even how celestial bodies, such as stars, function.

Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar won the Nobel Prize for chemistry for their independent work, on how cells can repair damaged DNA. Sancar discovered how DNA, after being damaged by substance that alter the shape of the DNA is repaired by polynucleotide excision repair. Modrich, meanwhile, discovered a process called mismatch repair, where the a protein ‘marks’ segments of DNA incorrectly copied during cell division for replacement. Lindahl discovered DNA glycosylases, which are proteins that read, remove, and replace damaged genetic segments. These discoveries help scientists to further unravel the mysteries surrounding DNA and how it functions, and may led to further research on how the processes can be implemented to combat genetic diseases.

Satoshi Ōmura, William C. Campbell, and Youyou Tu won the medical Nobel Prize. Ōmura and Campbell won the prize for their work in developing Avermectin, a medicine for treating parasitic diseases such as river blindness. They developed their treatment from microbes in the soil that they found combated parasitical diseases most effectively. Tu found a compound in a plant that seemed to combat malaria and extracted it so that it could be used as a treatment. “Dr. Tu’s creation…not only helped mortality rates for malaria but also, it helped contribute to economic growth,” said Rhia Singh, a student at Brooklyn Tech, telling us how scientist’s discoveries not only affect the area that they are working on directly, but they also affect many other parts of our life. These scientist’s discoveries are instrumental for reducing the pain and suffering that these diseases cause in many lives.

These discoveries not only affect the scientific community’s understanding of the topics, but they affect all of Brooklyn Tech as well. Specifically, how we as students learn about and understand the topics of physics, chemistry, and medicine. “It’s inspiring to see the achievements that these scientists have made,” Singh commented.  When great scientists make discoveries, students like us get interested and inspired to make our own.

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