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.

What were the contributions of Fritz Haber?

          Fritz Haber was a German physical chemist. He was the winner of the 1918 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his successful work on nitrogen fixation.

          Haber was born on 9th December 1868 in Poland. He became known for his Nobel Prize winning invention of the Haber—Bosch process, a method used in industry to synthesize ammonia from nitrogen gas and hydrogen gas.

          This invention is of importance for the large-scale synthesis of fertilisers. The food production for half the world’s current population depends on this method for producing nitrogen fertilisers.

          His public life was entangled in controversy because of his role in the German poison gas programme during World War I. His name has been associated with the process of synthesizing ammonia. Haber formulated a theory to explain that exposure to a low concentration of a poisonous gas for a long time often had the same effect as exposure to a high concentration for a short time. This became known as Haber’s rule. He died on 29th January, 1934.

Who was Otto Wallach?

          Otto Wallach was a German chemist born on 27th March, 1847. He received the 1910 Nobel Prize for his work on alicyclic compounds.

          In 1865, he went to the University of Gottingen to study chemistry. In 1889, he was made the Director of the Chemical Institute at Gottingen. For many years, Wallach studied the structure and characters of alicyclic compounds, including hydrogen chloride.

         Wallach spent much of his research on the molecular structure of essential oils. He separated from the oils a group of fragrant materials that he called terpenes. He showed that many substances were mixtures of a small number of terpenes and that terpenes can easily be altered and changes into each other. Otto Wallach’s work became significant within the chemical industry, where essential oils are used in perfume and food.

          In 1909, he published his results and conclusions in his book about the chemistry of Terpenes- ‘Terpene and Campher'.

          Otto Wallach died on 26th February 1931, at the age of 84.

What made Wilhelm Ostwald a distinguished figure among Nobel laureates?

          Friedrich Wilhelm Ostwald almost single-handedly established physical chemistry as an acknowledged academic discipline. In 1909, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on catalysis, chemical equilibria, and reaction velocities.

          Ostwald, born on 2nd September 1853, was a German chemist. Ostwald, Jacobus Henricus van’t Hoff, and Svante Arrhenius are credited with being the modern founders of the field of physical chemistry.

          Ostwald went to Leipzig in 1887, where he carried out ground-breaking research on catalysis, while promoting the works of Arrhenius and van’t Hoff.

          In 1894, he revealed how a catalyst can affect a chemical reaction’s speed, but is not included in its end-products. This understanding shed great light on chemical reactions, occurring in both industrial processes and living organisms. Ostwald died in 1932, after a short illness. He was 79 years old.

Who was Robert Robinson?

            Sir Robert Robinson studied the chemical reactions involved in forming alkaloids, and won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1947. He isolated tropinone in 1917, and described the structure of morphine in 1925, and strychnine in 1946.

            Robert Robinson was born on 13th September, 1886 at Rufford in Derbyshire. He contributed greatly towards the definition of the arrangement of atoms within molecules of morphine, papaverine, narcotine etc. These discoveries led to the production of certain antimalarial drugs in future. He also invented the symbol for benzene having a circle in the middle whilst working at St. Andrews University in 1923.

            During the World War II, Robinson worked on topics of national importance such as chemotherapy and chemical defence.

            His closing years were marred by failing eyesight, and he became almost completely blind. Nevertheless, his intellect remained active, and he began an autobiography when he was 88-years-old, working at it even on the day he died, 8th February, 1975.

Why is Linus Pauling unique among the Nobel laureates?

            Linus Pauling was one of the greatest scientists and humanitarians the world has seen. He was a much respected and beloved defender of civil liberties and health issues.

            Pauling was born on 28th February 1901, in the US. Linus Pauling has been awarded two undivided Nobel Prizes. In 1954, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Eight years later, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition to weapons of mass destruction.

            He is one of four individuals to have won more than one Nobel Prize. Of these, he is the only person to be awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes, and one of the two legends to be awarded Nobel Prizes in different fields, the other being Marie Curie.

            After first studying at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, Linus Pauling earned his Ph.D from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, with which he maintained ties for the rest of his career.

            In 1954, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application in the structure of complex substances.

            Linus Pauling died on 19th August 1994.

What were the contributions of Melvin Calvin?



            Melvin Calvin won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1961 for his research on the carbon dioxide assimilation in plants. Through studies during the early 1950s, particularly of single-cell green algae, Calvin traced the path taken by carbon through different stages of photosynthesis, which was later named the Calvin cycle. For this, he made use of tools such as radioactive isotopes and chromatography. His findings included insight into the important role played by phosphorous compounds during the composition of carbohydrates.

            Calvin was born on 8th April 1911, at St. Paul, Minnesota in the US. He is well-known for his leadership quality. During the latter part of the 1940s, and throughout the following decade, he led, and inspired an outstanding group of researchers.

            In 1942, Calvin married Genevieve Jemtegaard, with later Nobel chemistry laureate Glenn T. Seaborg as his best man. The husband and wife duo worked on an interdisciplinary project to investigate the chemical factors in the Rh blood group system. He died on 8th January, 1997.

Who was Max Perutz?

            Max Ferdinand Perutz was an Austrian-born British molecular biologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1962, jointly with English biochemist John Kendrew, for their investigation on the structure of haemoglobin.

          Max Perutz was born on 19th May 1914, in Vienna, Austria, where his father owned a textile factory. He took his Ph.D from Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge in 1936.

          Max Perutz applied the most powerful device X-ray crystallography to analyze the structure of haemoglobin. During the 1930s, this method was used to map increasingly large and complex molecules. He began to map the structure of haemoglobin, for example - the protein that allows blood to transport energy-giving oxygen to the body’s muscles.

          He received several awards including the Royal Medal in 1971, and the Copley Medal in 1979 from the Royal Society’ of London.

          On 6th February, 2002, he succumbed to cancer.

Why is Sully Prudhomme ever remembered in the history of the Nobel prizes?



        Sully Prudhomme, the French essayist and poet in 1901, had the honour of winning the first Nobel Prize in Literature.

          Born on the 16th March 1839, in Paris, little is recorded about his upbringing, but it is known that he was originally studying engineering but he changed streams and studied philosophy instead. He had already begun writing poetry as a student, and his debut came in 1865.

          Much of his work demonstrated a sometimes sentimental, and certainly personal, style with a heavy leaning towards his interests in philosophy and all things scientific.

          He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect. Sully Prudhomme died in1907.

Why is Rudyard Kipling prominent among the Nobel laureates?

            Rudyard Kipling was an English writer and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. He is best known for his poems and stories set in India during the  period  British imperial rule.

            Kipling was born in Bombay, but educated in England. In 1882, aged sixteen, he returned to Lahore, where his parents then lived. He worked for Anglo-Indian newspapers there.

           His literary career began with ‘Departmental Ditties’ published in 1886. His children’s books are classics of children’s literature. Rudyard Kipling wrote the most famous children’s book in world history- ‘The Jungle Book’ in 1894.

          In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration.

         His other works are ‘Stalky and Co.’, ‘Kim’ and ‘Puck of Pook’s Hill’. The ‘Just So Stories’ were originally written for his daughter Josephine, who died of pneumonia aged six.

         Rudyard Kipling died on 18th January, 1936.

Why is W.B Yeats considered as one of the prominent figures in modern poetry?

          William Butler Yeats is widely considered to be one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Born in Dublin, Ireland, on 13th June 1865, William Butler Yeats was the son of a well-known Irish painter, John Butler Yeats.

          A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, he helped in founding the Abbey Theatre, and in his later years, served as an Irish Senator for two terms. Though his works after 1910 was strongly influenced by Ezra Pound, becoming more modern in its imagery, W. B. Yeats was loyal to the traditional verse forms.

          He won the Nobel Prize in the year 1923 for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation. William Butler Yeats used the occasion of his acceptance lecture at the Royal Academy of Sweden to present himself as a standard-bearer of Irish nationalism and Irish cultural independence.

          His first significant poem was ‘The Island of Statues’, a fantasy work that took Edmund Spenser and Shelley for its poetic models.

          His first solo publication was the pamphlet ‘Mosada: A Dramatic Poem’. Yeats died in 1939.