Nobel Prizes: USA far ahead in tally


There is no doubt that USA laps up the talent from all over the world. US leads the tally of Nobel prize winners which were introduced in 1901 and Economics prize introduced in 1968. Since then 585 Nobel prizes have been awarded to 922 winners out of which only 49 are women.
Youngest and oldest

Youngest person to receive the Nobel is Malala Yousafzai who received it at the age of 17 years in 2014. Although she belongs to Pakistan, her country may hardly be happy over her winning it. Oldest Nobel laureate is Leonid Hurwicz of US who received the Nobel in 2004 for economics at the age of 90 years.
Countries at the top of list.
USA:

357 total

Chemistry: 73

Economics: 55

Literature: 12

Peace: 22

Physics: 94

Medicine: 101
U.K.

115 total

Chemistry: 29

Economics: 10

Literature: 9

Peace: 9

Physics: 26

Medicine: 32
Germany

82 total

Chemistry: 29

Economics: 8

Literature: 1

Peace: 4

Physics: 23

Medicine: 17
France

57 total

Chemistry: 8

Economics: 2

Literature: 15

Peace: 8

Physics: 13

Medicine: 11
Sweden

33 total

Chemistry: 5

Economics: 2

Literature: 9

Peace: 5

Physics: 4

Medicine: 8
Major areas of research leading to Nobel 

In physics is particle physics and in chemistry is biochemistry. Research in genetics most hot topic and in economics it is micro economics.
Nobel winners of Indian origin 
Ronald Ross: Medicine 1902

Rabindranath Tagore: Literature 1913

C.V.Raman: Physics in 1930

Hargobind Khurana: Medicine in 1968

Mother Teresa: Peace in 1979

Subramanyan Chandrasekhar: Physics in 1983

Amartya Sen: Economics in 1998

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan: Chemistry in 2009

Kailash Satyarthi: Peace in 2014

Why lobsters and crabs turn red on cooking

These two Sea foods are mouthwatering and popular all over the world. So much so that fairs are held to celebrate the lobster.  One such festival is held in Rockland, Maine which is attended by thousands.

lobster

When cooked these creatures turn coppery red. Although it is not necessary to become a chemist to become chefs but cooking is a science where chemistry takes place at each step. Some chemicals break down to get converted into edible and easily digestible. Similarly in many foods there are color changes when cooked which is also due to chemical modification of ingredients. Here also, chemistry is occurring.

Normal lobster is of muddy color when alive. But the final color is dependent on the amounts of a pigment called astaxanthin which is also the pigment responsible for the red color of carrots, pink of flamingos, salmon and crabs. This pigment is red in color when free. It’s chemical structure is given below.



due to the ketone and alcohol groups this compound is very active chemically easily binds other chemicals like proteins. pigment is a. powerful antioxidant. Lobsters ingest it keep stress of survival under control has been found be beneficial human beings.

What happens in the lobster is that this pigment binds to the proteins in its skin. Due to this binding, it is forced to change its geometric structure and gets twisted to fit in. Depending on the type of protein it bonds to, there’s either what’s called a bathochromic shift, which turns the pigment blue, or a hyspochromic shift, to yellow. When you’re looking at a lobster, you’re seeing light reflecting through different layers of free and bonded astaxanthin–a lot of colors mixed together, hence the muddy brown.

So the final color is a combination of many colors like red, blue and amount and type  of proteins present in the body of lobster and the age . The muddy color is good for camouflaging from the predator because it becomes indistinguishable from the muddy water.

When the lobster is cooked the proteins are denatured and release the astaxanthin pigment turning the cooked meat into coppery red.

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier: Father of Modern Chemistry

Antoine Lavoisier, son of a wealthy lawyer,  was a social climber, tax collector and widely held to be the founder of modern chemistry. He was born in 1743 and was put to guillotine in 1794 on the charges of selling the adulterated tobacco which was a luxury and was very costly. It came from colonies in South America established by Europeans and employed black people as captives.

Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and His Wife (Marie-...

He discovered oxygen gas and named it so. Joseph Priestly, English scientist had also discovered this gas but named it “dephlogisticated air“. Both knew that the gas was closely associated with combustion in or around 1774. Priestly even demonstrated the synthesis of the gas by heating the mercury oxide with focused sun rays before Lavoisier when the former was a guest of the latter’s family on a tour to France. After some time of this event, Lavoisier also synthesized oxygen by an entirely different method.

He also demonstrated that water which was considered an element to be made of two elements oxygen and hydrogen. He devised a very brilliant method to split the water into

Chem ical ex pe ri ments in In tro duc tion to...
Chem ical ex pe ri ments in In tro duc tion to Chem istry (Seimi Kaisō). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

its forming elements. The water was boiled and steam was passed through a coiled pipe made of iron. The box containing the coil was joined to another pipe which was dipped into the water at other end.The steam reacted with iron forming oxide thus subtracting the oxygen from water. Another component, namely Hydrogen, went out and bubbled through water and was collected by displacement above water.

Similarly he showed that air which again was considered an element was in fact a mixture of gases.

He is credited with starting the nomenclature of the elements known during his time. He even put the heat also among the elements list. He is thus responsible for initiating the process of documentation of chemsitry.

His another great achievement was what is now known as Stochiometry in chemistry. It is in a way is conservation of mass. He decomposed the salts of known weight and weighed the products and found that total amount remains the same. This audit of the mass has been responsible for the discovery of new compounds and elements and research chemists regularly make use of the this technique to pinpoint the missing mass.

Such a great scientist met with a very sad end. He was hanged when he was barely 50 years old.

A Soccer Ball and C60 Molecule

Carbon, a small atom with atomic weight of 12 amu and atomic number of 6, is the element on which the life on this planet is based. Carbon atom forms 4 single electron bonds of sp3 configuration and hence can combine with 4 different atoms including carbon atoms. Thus it can form giant or macromolecules often found in nature. Some examples are carbohydrates, hydrocarbons, proteins, lipids and so on.

Buckminster Fuller

Carbon as such exists in two allotropic forms namely diamond and graphite with very different physical properties. While diamond is the hardest material and inert towards chemicals, graphite is active, chemically not inert and conducts electricity with ease and has a structure made of hexagonal sheets separated by electron clouds. There sheets can slip over each other making graphite a lubricant. Scientists has been able to separate these 1 atom thick sheets which have extraordinary properties like many times stronger than steel, easily foldable and superconductor of electricity. These sheets has been named Graphene.

Possibilities do not end here. In the interstellar dust, giant molecules of carbon which are very stable and inert have been detected. One of them is C60 molecule. If it was to be superstable and chemically inert, it should have a closed structure. Smalley and Kroto who were awarded Nobel Prize for the discovery looked towards the domes constructed by Buckminster Fuller outlined above. They called this molecule Buckminsterfullerene in his honor. A soccer ball is known as truncated icosahedron which has 60 vertices, 32 faces: 12 of which are pentagonal and 20 hexagonal. Famous architect Buckminster Fuller constructed biosphere structures which are very stable and energy efficient because a sphere has maximum volume but minimum surface area.

Exceptional Brains

Human beings are endowed with power of thinking. All this is possible due to highly evolved brain. But some of us humans are exceptional. Do they see visions? They can predict the events of future. Following are such incidences from the science field.

Sir P.A.M Dirac is considered as the greatest physicist in Britain after Newton. A stern father made him the man of few words. But this trait turned on an intense internal energy which manifested in the form of beautiful equations when he married Einstein’s relativity with quantum mechanism. On the basis of his research, he envisaged sub atomic particles which have equal and opposite electrical charge and equal mass to particles like electrons. His equations yielded two solutions like quadratic equations. Proof came soon when in a experiment in cloud chamber, a particle, hitherto, unknown was observed following mirror trajectory to the electrons emitted from a radioactive particle. It is clear that in a magnetic field, the particles follow a circular trajectory. So this particle was opposite of electron with equal mass. So his prediction was borne true. This particle is called anti-electron or positron. Soon, it became known that there is antimatter to every type of matter. In fact, now scientists believe that there exist space with antimatter and efforts are on to exploit their potential.

Another such great person was a Russian chemist. His name was Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev. At the time when he was on the scene, the concept of atomic number of elements was unknown. Only few elements were known to chemists. The physical parameter which was considered important for distinguishing the elements from each other was atomic weight. He was the first man to arrange the elements in groups based on their properties. His insight of the nature was so great that he left many blank places for elements which were not known then. He gave them names prefixed by eka, dvi and tri added to the element preceding the one with eka prefix. For example, ekaboron was the name of element which occupied next place to Boron. It was later discovered and is called Scandium. He had predicted all the properties of the element to be discovered and they matched almost exactly to the element when discovered. His periodic table is the forerunner of the modern periodic table which has evolved over time and is based on the atomic number concept. It is based on the premise that elements in a group have similar electronic configuration and all the elements fall in periods with elements in group having similar properties but increasing atomic numbers. Each element has an added shell of electrons to the previous one. Incidentally, prefixes eka, dvi and tri have been adapted from Sanskrit and mean one, two and three. This love for Sanskrit is said to be due to the influence from a friend who was a Sanskrit scholar.

Kekule, an organic chemist was another exception. He dreamed dreams about atoms and their arrangement. He did it another way around. To explain the unusual properties of a chemical compound and its strange molecular weight, he was so much involved in the thoughts that he was always lost in the reverie. Even while travelling in bus from his laboratory to his home he was so absorbed in the thoughts of figuring out the formula that will explain the observed properties that he had to be reminded by the conductor about the end of his journey. And one day, he saw a dream in which atoms were dancing. Then heavier of them turned into snakes which were joined to each other as each snake has the tail of other one in his mouth. He woke up and rest of night worked out the formula of the first of the aromatic compounds called Benzene.

Putting the Elements in their Proper Places

Elements are entities of the matter which have different chemical and physical properties. Almost all the elements exist in the form of compounds in which different elements are joined in definite ratios and this ratio is always constant. Water is made up of 2 atoms of hydrogen element and 1 element of oxygen. No matter from where you collect the water, it shall have the same composition.

But notwithstanding the differences, they form groups which are like the siblings. They are similar and dissimilar at the same time meaning that they follow a progression of physical and chemical properties. For example. there are elements which called alkali metals which form hydroxides having high pH solutions in water. Only difference is that pH will be different for hydroxides of different metals.

From the days of alchemy, chemists were fascinated by the elements and trying to group them in such a way that elements closer in nature to one another come in one cluster. It was also observed that by placing the elements in rows and columns, moving along a row, at the end of the row, the next element shall be like the first element of the previous row. They tried to understand why sometimes atoms of different elements have strong affinity for each other whereas other atoms hate each other and have to coerced to react with one another.

On the earth’s surface and subsurface, elements are found in the form of compounds and constitute the minerals. Sand or silica is composed of silicon and oxygen atoms and bauxite is made up from the combination of aluminum, oxygen and hydrogen atoms. The lifetime endeavor of many chemists was divide the elements in groups in such a way that properties of elements adjacent to one another can be predicted by looking at their location. They were trying to place them on the paper with their locations in definite arrangements.

After so much efforts, it was the genius of Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev, a 19th Century Russian chemist, who came up with arrangement of 63 elements known in his time based on the periodicity of the properties. In placed them in rows called periods and columns called groups and the periodic table of elements was born. The name periodic indicates the periodicity in the properties of the elements. In his time, the concept of atomic structure of atoms was unknown. No one knew the atomic numbers. But in the end when these concepts became popular, the foundation of the periodic table was put on a more firm bases.

Was it not for the genius of the man that he reserved the place in his table for many elements which were undiscovered yet. Despite the many skeptics, he was proved right again. He was influenced by Bohtlingk, a Sanskrit scholar of Russia who was his friend and was preparing the second edition of his book on the Panini who is known for his grammar of Sanskrit, particularly for his formulation of the 3,959 rules of Sanskrit morphology, syntax and semantics in the grammar known as Ashtadhyayi (अष्टाध्यायी Aṣṭādhyāyī, meaning “eight chapters”), the foundational text of the grammatical branch of the Vedanga, the auxiliary scholarly disciplines of Vedic religion, when he gave the prefixes eka, dvi and tri for unknown elements being 1, 2 and 3 places below known element  in the group of elements. For example “ekaboron” was 1 row below and was ultimately identified as Aluminum and so on.

Although the Periodic Table of the Elements was one of the most fruitful ideas to come out of scientific research in the 19th Century, Mendeleev was never awarded a Nobel Prize for this work, although he came within one vote of it in 1906. The reason cited is that one member of the awarding committee argued, rather eloquently, that Mendeleev’s 1869 work had already been widely accepted as a basic part of chemical knowledge, and had already been put forward by the Italian chemist, Stanislao Cannizzaro.

Dmitri Mendeleev died peacefully during a reading of Jules Verne’s Journey to the North Pole, aged 72 on 20 January, 1907. (This was six years after the Nobel Prizes were first awarded).

Since then, eight elements have been discovered and nearly 30 have been made in the laboratory. Mendeleev has the rare distinction of having an element, that with Atomic Number 101 (Mendelevium), named after him. This synthetic element was obtained by Albert Ghiorso, Glenn T Seaborg and co-workers between 1955 and 1958.

Cyclohexane: A Chemical Chair

Cyclohexane belongs to the category of hydrocarbons called naphthenes. It has a chemical formula of C6H12. Naphthenes are found in crude oil. Most abundant are mono ring compounds of which cyclohexane is the perfect example. In fact, the poly ring naphthenes are found in the high boiling fractions of naphtha and the name seems to have been derived from naphtha. The term Naphthene has become almost redundant except in petroleum industry.The other fractions present in the crude oil are paraffins which are long chain alkanes  with formula CnH2n+1. For example, when n=6, then we have hexane with formula C6H14. High molecular weight paraffins are the main constituents of waxes. Another important category of compounds present in the crude oil is called aromatics. The most celebrated and simplest molecule of the category is Benzene with chemical formula C6H6. The overall properties of crude oil depend on the relative amounts of these fractions.

So, we observe that normal hexane, cyclohexane and benzene have six carbons but number of hydrogen atoms go on decreasing while going from paraffins to aromatics. This indicates that we are progressing towards graphite with the loss of hydrogen atoms. Crude oils derived from the marine sources are lighter in nature meaning they have lesser amounts of waxy paraffins. This helps them to be lighter and survive in under sea hydrostatic pressure. On the other hand, plants in the arid climates have wax on their leaves which helps in the prevention of moisture evaporation and is absolutely necessary for the survival of plants under harsh conditions. Thus the crude derived from terrestrial plants have higher wax content.

Anyway, we come to cyclohexane. The carbon atoms try to have tetrahedral geometry around them when combining to 4 atoms. But this is not possible here. So they settle for a compromise for stability. Cyclohexane twists to have a shape like a chair with alternate carbons in two parallel planes and hydrogen atoms arranged in two directions. They are in positions called axial and equatorial positions with axial hydrogen atoms almost perpendicular to the carbon atoms plane with alternating up and down positions.

How was this structure confirmed? It was confirmed by using the tool called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) which is used these days in the medical science under the name of MRI. The protons  (hydrogen atoms) behave like tiny magnets and spin around their axis. As we know from the magnets, when we place a small magnet near a strong magnet, smaller one aligns itself along the axis of stronger magnet. Energy is required to flip it back to its original position. Thus the principle of NMR is that molecules are placed in a powerful magnetic field and swept with electromagnetic energy. This will be of no useful tool if all the hydrogen atoms absorb the energy at same wavelength. Fortunately, the magnetic moments of hydrogen atoms are modified by the electronic environment around it a molecule which may be due to the presence of hetero atoms and groups or different number of groups. Thus due to the different environment, the hydrogen atoms absorb energy at different wavelengths. From this we come to know the chemical environment of different hydrogen atoms and thus elucidate its structure. In our brain, we have so many molecules which contain hydrogen atoms and these are affected by the state of our mind.

When cyclohexane is placed in a NMR cell, we get only a single signal indicating that all the hydrogen atoms are equivalent. But this is true only at normal temperature. The reason is that axial and equatorial hydrogen atoms flip up and down because energy required for this is very small and room temperature provides it. But as we cool the sample, less energy is available and a temperature reaches 40K, the atoms sort of freeze in their locations and two peaks begin to appear. These peaks are indicative of up and down orientation hydrogen atoms. This confirms a chair configuration of cyclohexane.