Physiology/Medicine: Shinya Yamanaka and Sir John Gurdon
Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka and British researcher Sir John Gurdon discovered a method of turning adult cells from the human body back into stem cells, which can then be turned into any kind of tissue, and one day could be used to repair damaged organs. Sir John Gurdon was once ridiculed by his headmaster at Eton, who thought his ambitions of becoming a scientist were a waste of time.
Chemistry: Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka
Both American cardiologists Robert Lefkowitz of Duke University, and Brian Kobilka of Stanford University, and have spent four decades working to reveal how the body responds to smells, sights, tastes, and threats from the outside world. They’re credited with discovering how cells respond to chemical messages, a revelation that's informed the formulations of 40% of all prescription drugs available today.
Photo: Lefkolab, Stanford University
Literature: Mo Yan
Chinese writer Mo Yan's work combines hallucinatory realism with folk tales, history and contemporary life in China. Yan was reportedly once so destitute he ate tree bark and weeds to survive, but now he's the first Chinese national to win the $1.2 million literature prize. According to the Guardian, Yan wrote the first draft of his latest novel on traditional Chinese paper using only ink and a writing brush; he finished it in just 43 days.
Physics: David Wineland
David Wineland is one of two physicists honored this year. Wineland discovered one way to manipulate individual atoms and particles of light. Why is that important? According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, it’s the first step towards building a new type of super-fast computer, based on quantum physics, which previously would have been impossible.
Physics: Serge Haroche
Scientist Serge Haroche shares the Nobel prize for physics with David Wineland. Though the two did not work together, they each came up with a unique way to manipulate atoms and light particles. Together their discoveries have led to the creation of extremely precise clocks that could become the future basis for a new standard of time.
A Bay Area native, Andri Antoniades previously worked as a fashion industry journalist and medical writer. In addition to reporting the weekend news on TakePart, she volunteers as a web editor for locally-based nonprofits and works as a freelance feature writer for TimeOutLA.com.Email Andri | @andritweets | TakePart.com