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Spoiler: I am not discussing this year’s peace prize. If you really really want to know how Obama did it, read Ramesh Srivats’ or take a look at Jai Iyer’s. Since it has been given away, I see no point in going on ranting about it. Not that this is the first controversy over peace anyway!

And since controversies always hog the limelight, the rest of the awards given away this year was almost hidden. Being the bio-geek that I am, I am directly jumping over to the prizes in Chemistry and Medicine this year. Two reasons why:

  • Nobel prizes in both chemistry and medicine were awarded to research carried out on bio(techno?)logy. One set of people for deciphering the ribosome structure & function, and another one for discovering the telomerase.
  • What? Wasn’t that a good enough reason? Here’s number two, then: I am somehow not all that attracted towards controversies – everyone writes about them, and a lot do way better than I do (the two referred in the opening paragraph for examples). Plus, literature is just beyond my simple mind.

Now that’s settled. So coming back to this year’s two prizes in discussion, both the groups’ got their prizes much after their work was done. I’ve read about the structure of the ribosome in every book prescribed, and I was just ignorant when we had our teachers rambling on about telomerases.

GEEK ALERT. For the benefit of those with a non-bio background, here’s your lesson:

  • The body’s made up of many tiny little cells, and each cell has tiny molecules called proteins which basically do all the work: talk to other cells, break down the food you eat, take care of harmful things that enter your body and stuff like that. So within a cell, proteins need to be manufactured, and these ribosomes are factories in which they’re synthasised.
  • I’m assuming everyone who’s seen Mani Ratnam’s Aayuda ezhuthu would be aware of Surya speaking of DNA, chromosomes, XX, XY, blah et. al. So basically all *information* about you (like the colour of your eye to your left/right hand habit) is stored in your DNA (a copy of which is present in every cell in your body), and telomerases are a certain type of proteins (refer previous paragraph) which make sure the DNA size is maintained.
  • See, it isn’t all that cryptic!

Ah, yet another diversion. So moving on, like I was saying: both these awards have been given away way after the work was actually done. Why’s there such a lag in awarding the prizes? Was it because no one’s done anything in the past one year or does it take so much time to recognise work? It seems that people need to stand the test of time on top of their achievements before the most prestigious award is bestowed upon them (the *most prestigious* tag still intrigues me). And in certain cases, history has shown us that certain times even several nominations are insufficient to win the prize (this one’s an interesting article I came across on the Nobel prize site itself). Furthermore, awarding the prizes posthumously has been of great debate. So with much ifs and buts running around the Nobels, what’re we all hyping it up for?!

P.S.: This post’s long been sitting in the drafts bin of my dashboard. I just never managed to complete it till the point where I lost track of where I was heading. My apologies.

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