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Inventions and Discoveries which Got the Nobel Prize

Over the past few days, much has been said about Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai, both recipients of the coveted Nobel Prize for Peace in 2014. Their efforts of making the world a better place by protecting the rights of children, be it in education, safety or freedom of life and choices have captured the imagination of the world and have made India proud.


However, the Nobel Prizes also went to men of science who were involved with interesting inventions and discoveries which will help us with a better future and to understand ourselves better.




Global positioning system (GPS) tracker is present in every human brain


The usage of GPS is so frequent nowadays in our daily and electronic appliances, such as smartphones or our cars, to ensure that we aren’t directionally challenged and have no problems finding our destination.


However, did we know that there’s a tracking organ or GPS inside our human brain?



Well, US–British scientist John O'Keefe and Norwegian scientists and husband–wife couple Edvard Moser and May-Britt Moser won the Nobel Prize in Medicine on 13 October 2014, for discovering the ‘inner GPS’ which helps the brain navigate through the world.


Every time we visit the same city we can travel in the city without a map all the time. This is because we have a map of the familiar environment and a positioning system already installed in our brains (grid and place cells) which give us a sense of direction and space.




Developing microscopes which can help study from the activities of a bacteria cell to a brain neuron


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek invented the first simple microscope in the 17th century which has been a key tool for all biologists ever since. Unfortunately, the microscope had its limitations and couldn’t view sizes and shapes beyond a limit.


The resolution in microscopy had been limited to 200 nanometres – about the size of the smallest bacteria – for two centuries since the invention by the microscopist Ernst Abbe.




Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner broke the rule by developing super resolved fluorescence microscopy which got them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


The improvement in the resolution of traditional light microscopy has enabled scientists to bring their understanding of physiological process into much sharper focus – right down to the molecular level. Using the cutting-edge spectroscopic techniques they’ve developed, scientists are now able to see molecular processes in real time, including the study of live cells such as bacteria and important biological processes such as the passage of electric and chemical signals between brain neurons (synapses), which, in turn, will help solve complex brain-related diseases and Huntingdon’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.




Invention of blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) which will create energy-saving bright and white light sources


This year's Nobel Prize in Physics went to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura whose findings you probably rely on just about every day. The blue LEDs they helped create are taking over light bulbs and are already seeing universal use in smartphone flashlights and displays.





We could create red and green light, but the creation of blue light remained elusive. Red, blue and green light combine to make the bright white light produced by LED bulbs, which have a longer lifetime and are energy efficient.


Also Read: Indian astronauts and their achievements


-Sayan Ganguly

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