Why is Otto Hahn a unique Nobel Prize recipient?

          Otto Hahn was a German chemist and researcher. He pioneered the fields of radio-chemistry and radioactivity, and is known as ‘the father of nuclear chemistry’. He inadvertently discovered nuclear fission during an experiment in which the uranium atom split into barium.

          Otto Hahn was born on 8th March 1879, in Germany. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1944 for the discovery and the radiochemical proof of nuclear fission. Hahn crusaded against the use of nuclear weapons after World War II.

          Otto Hahn received his Nobel Prize one year later, in 1945. During the selection process in 1944, the Nobel Committee for Chemistry decided that none of the year’s nominations met the criteria as outlined in the will of Alfred Nobel. According to the Nobel Foundation’s statutes, the Nobel Prize can in such a case be reserved until the following year, and this statute was then applied. Otto Hahn therefore, received his Nobel Prize for 1944 one year later, in 1945.

          Though Hahn is best known for his discovery of nuclear fission, he also made several other important scientific contributions in the fields of chemistry and physics. He died on 28th July, 1968.

What were the contributions of Peter Debye?

            Peter Debye was one of the leading physical chemists of his time, whose studies in the field of molecular structure helped mankind in developing greater understanding of the subject.

          Debye was a Dutch-American physicist and physical chemist, and Nobel laureate in Chemistry. He was born on 24th March, 1884. He received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Munich in 1908.

          In 1912, Peter Debye developed a method to discern how a molecule is arranged in a structure to determine how electrical charges are distributed. This became important in the mapping of molecular structures.

          At the same time, X-ray radiation was becoming an important tool for mapping crystalline structures, but Peter Debye also developed methods for using both X-rays and electron beams to map molecular structures in gases, for example. Peter Debye was honoured with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1936. The world saw the last of this eminent scientist on 2nd November 1966, when he succumbed to a heart attack.

Why is Irene Curie a prominent Nobel laureate?

            Irene Joliot-Curie and her husband Frederic Joliot-Curie discovered artificial radioactivity- synthesising radioactive elements in the laboratory. Such elements are now used in tens of millions of medical procedures every year. Their use has saved mil-lions of lives.

            Irene Joliot-Curie was born in Paris as the daughter of Pierre and Marie Curie. Irene worked with her mother to provide mobile X-ray units during World War I.

            She later worked at the institute that her parents had founded. It was there that she conducted her Nobel Prize awarded work. This made the Curies- the family with the most Nobel laureates to date.

            The Joliot-Curies missed winning the Nobel twice earlier, for the couple had found proof of the neutron, the missing component of atomic nuclei, as well as the positron, the electron’s anti-particle counterpart, thus proving the existence of anti-matter. However, they failed to recognise the significance of their discoveries.

            Irene Joliot-Curie died on 17th March 1956. Frederic died two years after Irene’s death.

Why is it said that Frederic Joliot-Curie holds a unique record in the history of the Nobel Prizes?

             Frederic Joliot-Curie was a French physicist and Nobel laureate, who, along with his wife Irene Joliot-Curie, is credited with the discovery of artificial radioactivity. Frederic was born in France on 19th March, 1900. In 1925, he became an assistant to Marie Curie, at the Radium Institute and later got married to Curie’s  daughter Irene Curie.

            In 1934, the husband and wife duo discovered artificial radioactivity. The discovery was a milestone in science. For the same, they bombarded boron, aluminium, and magnesium with alpha particles. On bombardment, they obtained radioactive isotopes of elements not ordinarily radioactive. Since these elements were not found naturally, they decomposed easily, emitting positive and negative electrons. In 1935, for their discovery of artificial radioactivity, Frederic and Irene Joliot-Curie were awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

            It was after the discovery of the artificially produced isotopes that the possibility of using them to follow chemical changes and physiological processes were realized. Frederic Joliot-Curie died on 14th August 1958.

What made Hans Fischer prominent among the Nobel laureates?


          Hans Fischer was a famous German organic chemist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research in the structure of heme, the red blood pigment, and chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants.

          Hans Fischer was born on 27th July 1881, in Germany. Fischer studied haemoglobin, which is composed of the protein globin, and what is called the heme group. Haemoglobin possesses the unique property of forming a loose reversible combination with oxygen, so that oxygen taken up by it in the lungs can be given off in the tissues. In this loose combination the active part is heme, and heme combined with any other protein except globin, does not possess the property of giving up combined oxygen.

          Fischer mapped the composition of the heme group and in 1929; he succeeded in artificially producing the substance.

          He also studied other pigmented substances of biological importance, including chlorophyll, which plays a crucial role in plant photosynthesis. Hans Fischer died on 31st March, 1945.