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05 October 2005

AMY! Wake up! What's metathesis???

Yves Chauvin, Directeur de Research Honoreur,
Institut Français du Pétrole,
Rueil-Malmaison, France --
recipient of 2005 Nobel Chemistry Prize.
(Portrait on website of l'Académie des sciences)

At various locations on the surface of this Unhappy Planet today, children will be strapping high explosives to their bodies and trying to murder as many other children and adults, soldiers and civilians alike as they possibly can.

A variety of Responsible Nations will also be trying to annihilate children, women and men, and when the smoke clears, all the dead will be certified to have been Terrorists deserving what they got. All Brazilian electricians riding the subway must be killed to protect our nation.

(Well, maybe the rocket that went thru the Pediatrics Ward of the Hospital will be grudgingly listed as "collateral damage.")

In Sudan, state-supported and state-armed gangs of ethnic/religious warriors will be attacking refugee camps, raping and murdering the defenseless residents.

Maybe if we're all very lucky, Fox and CNN might get around at the very bottom of the hour to noting this small, quiet announcement. (Two recipients are from the USA! USA! so Fox and CNN might ballyhoo that. Fox probably won't mention the French guy. He's Evil.)

Human beings ARE capable of extraordinary achievements.

Human communities ARE capable of establishing long-lasting institutions of education and research where entire adult lives can be spent devoting themselves to nothing but Knowledge, Discovery, and the Benefits to all human beings that come from these things.

Entire decades of Hate, Violence, Oppression, Greed, Waste and Revenge are going to kill many of us and sicken nearly everybody else.

But imagine a solid Century where people like these geeks, nerds, nerdeusses, professors, teachers, researchers, boffins, everywhere on Earth, can be encouraged and allowed to do these kinds of things which they love.

Except for spending the Prize Money on more chemicals and fancy new research machines, most of these people won't know what to do with a million bucks; they've been dreaming all their lives. But never about huge amounts of money.


P.S. The Literature Prize announcement is delayed. Must be some kind of big dust-up or controversy in that Committee. Maybe they're having a big fight over whether to give it to that young Portuguese playwright!


The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Press Release: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2005

5 October 2005

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2005 jointly to

Yves Chauvin
Institut Français du Pétrole, Rueil-Malmaison, France,

Robert H. Grubbs
California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, CA, USA and

Richard R. Schrock
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA

"for the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis".

Metathesis -- a change-your-partners dance

This year's Nobel Prize Laureates in chemistry have made metathesis into one of organic chemistry's most important reactions. Fantastic opportunities have been created for producing many new molecules -- pharmaceuticals, for example. Imagination will soon be the only limit to what molecules can be built!

Organic substances contain the element carbon. Carbon atoms can form long chains and rings, bind other elements such as hydrogen and oxygen, form double bonds, etc. All life on Earth is based on these carbon compounds, but they can also be produced artificially through organic synthesis.

The word metathesis means 'change-places'. In metathesis reactions, double bonds are broken and made between carbon atoms in ways that cause atom groups to change places. This happens with the assistance of special catalyst molecules. Metathesis can be compared to a dance in which the couples change partners.

Animation (Plug in requirement: Flash Player 6) »

In 1971 Yves Chauvin was able to explain in detail how metatheses reactions function and what types of metal compound act as catalysts in the reactions. Now the "recipe" was known. The next step was, if possible, to develop the actual catalysts.

Richard Schrock was the first to produce an efficient metal-compound catalyst for methasesis. This was in 1990. Two years later Robert Grubbs developed an even better catalyst, stable in air, that has found many applications.

Metathesis is used daily in the chemical industry, mainly in the development of pharmaceuticals and of advanced plastic materials. Thanks to the Laureates' contributions, synthesis methods have been developed that are

* more efficient (fewer reaction steps, fewer resources required, less wastage),
* simpler to use (stable in air, at normal temperatures and pressures) and
* environmentally friendlier (non-injurious solvents, less hazardous waste products).

This represents a great step forward for "green chemistry", reducing potentially hazardous waste through smarter production. Metathesis is an example of how important basic science has been applied for the benefit of man, society and the environment.

Read more about this year's prize
Supplementary Information
Advanced Information (pdf)
In order to read the text you need Acrobat Reader.
Links and Further Reading

Yves Chauvin, born 1930 (74 years), French citizen. Directeur de Research Honoreur, Institut Français du Pétrole, Rueil-Malmaison, France.

Robert H. Grubbs, born 1942 (63 years) in Calvert City, KY [Kentucky], USA (US citizen). PhD in chemistry in 1968 from Columbia University, New York, NY, USA. Victor and Elisabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, CA, USA.

Richard R. Schrock, born 1945 (60 years) in Berne, IN [Indiana], USA (US citizen). PhD in chemistry in 1971 from Harvard University, Cambridge, MA [Massachusetts], USA.

Frederick G. Keyes Professor of Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA.

Prize amount: SEK 10 million, will be shared equally among the Laureates.

Contact persons: Malin Lindgren, Information Officer, Phone +46 8 673 95 22, +46 709 88 60 04,
Eva Krutmeijer, Head of Information, Phone +46 8 673 95 95, +46 709 84 66 38,


Blogger pat's pub said...

Despite that not all nominations are out, it doesn't look good for the Swiss this time. we usually get at least one a year, thanks to the CERN, the ETH, Lausanne University and what not.

I am fairly convinced however that I could be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year. Disarmed an escalating pub fight all on me own without calling for UN or NATO troops tween 2 loonies.
I reckon that qualifies for being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize nowdays
And the Nobel Prize for literature MUST go to Tom Wolfe.

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Maybe Tom deserves the prize for his books, but those white suits he wears -- who does he think he is, the Angel Gabriel?

Congratulations for breaking up the pub fight!

I don't think I can nominate myself, so maybe if some kind reader would nominate NGO Vleeptron to the Swedish Academy for the Peace Prize during the coming year. Maybe I could meet Kroninprinsess Viktoria! She's hot!


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