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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Nobel Prize 2014 : Brain GPS ,White LED,NANO-SCALE- Microscopy to Taming Powerful Firms

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2014

John O'Keefe
Prize share: 1/2

May-Britt Moser
Prize share: 1/4

Edvard I. Moser
Prize share: 1/4

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2014 was divided, one half awarded to John O'Keefe, the other half jointly to May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser "for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain".

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has today decided to award The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with one half to John O´Keefe and the other half jointly to May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain

How do we know where we are? How can we find the way from one place to another? And how can we store this information in such a way that we can immediately find the way the next time we trace the same path? This year´s Nobel Laureates have discovered a positioning system, an "inner GPS" in the brain that makes it possible to orient ourselves in space, demonstrating a cellular basis for higher cognitive function.

In 1971, John O´Keefe discovered the first component of this positioning system. He found that a type of nerve cell in an area of the brain called the hippocampus that was always activated when a rat was at a certain place in a room. Other nerve cells were activated when the rat was at other places. O´Keefe concluded that these "place cells" formed a map of the room.
More than three decades later, in 2005, May-Britt and Edvard Moser discovered another key component of the brain's positioning system. They identified another type of nerve cell, which they called "grid cells," that generate a coordinate system and allow for precise positioning and pathfinding. Their subsequent research showed how place and grid cells make it possible to determine position and to navigate.

The discoveries of John O´Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser have solved a problem that has occupied philosophers and scientists for centuries -- how does the brain create a map of the space surrounding us and how can we navigate our way through a complex environment?

How do we environment?
The sense of place and the ability to navigate are fundamental to our existence. The sense of place gives a perception of position in the environment. During navigation, it is interlinked with a sense of distance that is based on motion and knowledge of previous positions.Questions about place and navigation have engaged philosophers and scientists for a long time. More than 200 years ago, the German philosopher Immanuel Kant argued that some mental abilities exist as a priori knowledge, independent of experience. He considered the concept of space as an inbuilt principle of the mind, one through which the world is and must be perceived. With the advent of behavioural psychology in the mid-20th century, these questions could be addressed experimentally. When Edward Tolman examined rats moving through labyrinths, he found that they could learn how to navigate, and proposed that a "cognitive map" formed in the brain allowed them to find their way. But questions still lingered -- how would such a map be represented in the brain?

John O´Keefe and the place in space
John O´Keefe was fascinated by the problem of how the brain controls behaviour and decided, in the late 1960s, to attack this question with neurophysiological methods. When recording signals from individual nerve cells in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, in rats moving freely in a room, O'Keefe discovered that certain nerve cells were activated when the animal assumed a particular place in the environment. He could demonstrate that these "place cells" were not merely registering visual input, but were building up an inner map of the environment. O'Keefe concluded that the hippocampus generates numerous maps, represented by the collective activity of place cells that are activated in different environments. Therefore, the memory of an eexperience our nvironment can be stored as a specific combination of place cell activities in the hippocampus.

May-Britt and Edvard Moser find the coordinates
May-Britt and Edvard Moser were mapping the connections to the hippocampus in rats moving in a room when they discovered an astonishing pattern of activity in a nearby part of the brain called the entorhinal cortex. Here, certain cells were activated when the rat passed multiple locations arranged in a hexagonal grid. Each of these cells was activated in a unique spatial pattern and collectively these "grid cells" constitute a coordinate system that allows for spatial navigation. Together with other cells of the entorhinal cortex that recognize the direction of the head and the border of the room, they form circuits with the place cells in the hippocampus. This circuitry constitutes a comprehensive positioning system, an inner GPS, in the brain.A place for maps in the human brainRecent investigations with brain imaging techniques, as well as studies of patients undergoing neurosurgery, have provided evidence that place and grid cells exist also in humans. In patients with Alzheimer´s disease, the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex are frequently affected at an early stage, and these individuals often lose their way and cannot recognize the environment. Knowledge about the brain´s positioning system may, therefore, help us understand the mechanism underpinning the devastating spatial memory loss that affects people with this disease.
The discovery of the brain's positioning system represents a paradigm shift in our understanding of how ensembles of specialized cells work together to execute higher cognitive functions. It has opened new avenues for understanding other cognitive processes, such as memory, thinking and planning

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2014 to

Isamu Akasaki
Meijo University, Nagoya, Japan and Nagoya University, Japan

Hiroshi Amano
Nagoya University, Japan
Shuji Nakamura
University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA

“for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources”

New light to illuminate the world
This year’s Nobel Laureates are rewarded for having invented a new energy-efficient and environment-friendly light source – the blue light-emitting diode (LED). In the spirit of Alfred Nobel the Prize rewards an invention of greatest benefit to mankind; using blue LEDs, white light can be created in a new way. With the advent of LED lamps we now have more long-lasting and more efficient alternatives to older light sources.

When Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura produced bright blue light beams from their semi-conductors in the early 1990s, they triggered a funda-mental transformation of lighting technology. Red and green diodes had been around for a long time but without blue light, white lamps could not be created. Despite considerable efforts, both in the scientific community and in industry, the blue LED had remained a challenge for three decades.

They succeeded where everyone else had failed. Akasaki worked together with Amano at the University of Nagoya, while Nakamura was employed at Nichia Chemicals, a small company in Tokushima. Their inventions were revolutionary. Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.

White LED lamps emit a bright white light, are long-lasting and energy-efficient. They are constantly improved, getting more efficient with higher luminous flux (measured in lumen) per unit electrical input power (measured in watt). The most recent record is just over 300 lm/W, which can be compared to 16 for regular light bulbs and close to 70 for fluorescent lamps. As about one fourth of world electricity consumption is used for lighting purposes, the LEDs contribute to saving the Earth’s resources. Materials consumption is also diminished as LEDs last up to 100,000 hours, compared to 1,000 for incandescent bulbs and 10,000 hours for fluorescent lights.

The LED lamp holds great promise for increasing the quality of life for over 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to electricity grids: due to low power requirements it can be powered by cheap local solar power.

The invention of the blue LED is just twenty years old, but it has already contributed to create white light in an entirely new manner to the benefit of us all.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2014 to

Eric Betzig
Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, VA, USA,
Stefan W. Hell
Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, and German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany
William E. Moerner
Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
“for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy”

Surpassing the limitations of the light microscope
For a long time optical microscopy was held back by a presumed limitation: that it would never obtain a better resolution than half the wavelength of light. Helped by fluorescent molecules the Nobel Laureates in Chemistry 2014 ingeniously circumvented this limitation. Their ground-breaking work has brought optical microscopy into the nanodimension.

In what has become known as nanoscopy, scientists visualize the pathways of individual molecules inside living cells. They can see how molecules create synapses between nerve cells in the brain; they can track proteins involved in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases as they aggregate; they follow individual proteins in fertilized eggs as these divide into embryos.

It was all but obvious that scientists should ever be able to study living cells in the tiniest molecular detail. In 1873, the microscopist Ernst Abbe stipulated a physical limit for the maximum resolution of traditional optical microscopy: it could never become better than 0.2 micrometres. Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner are awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014 for having bypassed this limit. Due to their achievements the optical microscope can now peer into the nanoworld.

Two separate principles are rewarded. One enables the method stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy, developed by Stefan Hell in 2000. Two laser beams are utilized; one stimulates fluorescent molecules to glow, another cancels out all fluorescence except for that in a nanometre-sized volume. Scanning over the sample, nanometre for nanometre, yields an image with a resolution better than Abbe’s stipulated limit.

Eric Betzig and William Moerner, working separately, laid the foundation for the second method, single-molecule microscopy. The method relies upon the possibility to turn the fluorescence of individual molecules on and off. Scientists image the same area multiple times, letting just a few interspersed molecules glow each time. Superimposing these images yields a dense super-image resolved at the nanolevel. In 2006 Eric Betzig utilized this method for the first time.

Today, nanoscopy is used world-wide and new knowledge of greatest benefit to mankind is produced on a daily basis.

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2014:

Patrick Modiano
Prize share: 1/1

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 was awarded to Patrick Modiano "for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation".

Patrick Modiano (born 30 July 1945) is a French novelist. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2014, having previously won the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in 2012 and the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca from the Institut de France for his lifetime achievement in 2010. His other awards include the Prix Goncourt in 1978 for his novel Rue des boutiques obscures and the Grand prix du roman de l'Académie française in 1972 for Les Boulevards de ceinture.

Modiano's novels all delve into the puzzle of identity, of how one can track evidence of one's existence through the traces of the past. Obsessed with the troubled and shameful period of the Occupation—during which his father had allegedly engaged in some shady dealings—Modiano returns to this theme in all of his novels, book after book building a remarkably homogeneous work. "After each novel, I have the impression that I have cleared it all away," he says. "But I know I'll come back over and over again to tiny details, little things that are part of what I am. In the end, we are all determined by the place and the time in which we were born." He writes constantly about the city of Paris, describing the evolution of its streets, its habits and its people

Book :Honeymoon:

Jean B., the narrator of Patrick Modiano's Honeymoon, is submerged in a world where day and night, past and present, have no demarcations. Having spent his adult life making documentary films about lost explorers, Jean suddenly decides to abandon his wife and career, and takes what seems to be a journey to nowhere. He pretends to fly to Rio to make another film, but instead returns to his own Parisian suburb to spend his solitary days recounting or imagining the lives of Ingrid and Rigaud, a refugee couple he had met twenty years before, and in whom he had recognized a spiritual anomie that seemed to reflect and justify his own. Little by little, their story takes on more reality than Jean's daily existence, as his excavation of the past slowly becomes an all-encompassing obsession.

Book : Out of the Dark

Patrick Modiano, the author of more than twenty books, is one of France?s most admired contemporary novelists. Out of the Dark is a moody, expertly rendered tale of a love affair between two drifters.
The narrator,¯writing in 1995, looks back thirty years to a time when, having abandoned his studies and selling off old art books to get by, he comes to know  Van Bever and Jacqueline, a young, enigmatic couple who seem to live off roulette winnings. He falls in love with Jacqueline; they run off to England together, where they share a few sad, aimless months, until one day she disappears. Fifteen years later, in Paris, they meet again, a reunion that only recalls the haunting inaccessibility of the past: they spend a few hours together, and the next day, Jacqueline, now married, disappears once again. Almost fifteen years after that, he sees her yet again, this time from a distance he chooses not to bridge. A profoundly affecting novel, Out of the Dark is poignant, strange, delicate, melancholy, and sadly hilarious

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2014
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 is to be awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.  Children must go to school and not be financially exploited.  In the poor countries of the world, 60% of the present population is under 25 years of age.  It is a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected.  In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation.

Kailash Satyarthi (born 11 January 1954) is an Indian children's rights activist and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.He founded the Bachpan Bachao Andolan — or Save the Childhood Movement — in 1980 and has acted to protect the rights of 80,000 childrenShowing great personal courage, Kailash Satyarthi, maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain.  He has also contributed to the development of important international conventions on children’s rights.

Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzay has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations.  This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances.  Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education.On the afternoon of 9 October 2012, Malala boarded her school bus in the northwest Pakistani district of Swat. A gunman asked for Malala by name, then pointed a Colt 45 at her and fired three shots. One bullet hit the left side of Malala's forehead, traveled under her skin the length of her face and then into her shoulder

The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.  Many other individuals and institutions in the international community have also contributed.  It has been calculated that there are 168 million child labourers around the world today.  In 2000 the figure was 78 million higher.  The world has come closer to the goal of eliminating child labour.

The struggle against suppression and for the rights of children and adolescents contributes to the realization of the “fraternity between nations” that Alfred Nobel mentions in his will as one of the criteria for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2014
The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2014 was awarded to Jean Tirole "for his analysis of market power and regulation".

Jean Tirole
Born: 9 August 1953 in France (3rd Laureate in Economic Sciences born in France)
Workplace: Director of Toulouse School of Economics

The science of taming powerful firms:

Many industries are dominated by a small number of large firms or a single monopoly. Left unregulated, such markets often produce socially undesirable results – prices higher than those motivated by costs, or unproductive firms that survive by blocking the entry of new and more productive ones.

From the mid-1980s and onwards, Jean Tirole has breathed new life into research on such market failures. His analysis of firms with market power provides a unified theory with a strong bearing on central policy questions: how should the government deal with mergers or cartels, and how should it regulate monopolies?

Before Tirole, researchers and policymakers sought general principles for all industries. They advocated simple policy rules, such as capping prices for monopolists and prohibiting cooperation between competitors, while permitting cooperation between firms with different positions in the value chain. Tirole showed theoretically that such rules may work well in certain conditions, but do more harm than good in others. Price caps can provide dominant firms with strong motives to reduce costs – a good thing for society – but may also permit excessive profits – a bad thing for society. Cooperation on price setting within a market is usually harmful, but cooperation regarding patent pools can benefit everyone. The merger of a firm and its supplier may encourage innovation, but may also distort competition.

The best regulation or competition policy should therefore be carefully adapted to every industry’s specific conditions. In a series of articles and books, Jean Tirole has presented a general framework for designing such policies and applied it to a number of industries, ranging from telecommunications to banking. Drawing on these new insights, governments can better encourage powerful firms to become more productive and, at the same time, prevent them from harming competitors and customers.

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