Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt, Arieh Warshel win 2013 Chemistry Nobel

The Nobel winners in chemistry for this year devised methods that use both classical and quantum physics.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences today announced that Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2013 was jointly given to Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel "for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems".

"Chemists used to create models of molecules using plastic balls and sticks. Today, the modelling is carried out in computers. In the 1970s, Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel laid the foundation for the powerful programs that are used to understand and predict chemical processes," said The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in a release.

Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt, Arieh Warshel win 2013 Chemistry Nobel

Winners of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2013. Image courtesy nobelprize.org

Explaining the reason why the research was Nobel-worthy, the release said, "Computer models mirroring real life have become crucial for most advances made in chemistry today. Chemical reactions occur at lightning speed. In a fraction of a millisecond, electrons jump from one atomic nucleus to the other. Classical chemistry has a hard time keeping up; it is virtually impossible to experimentally map every little step in a chemical process. Aided by the methods now awarded with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, scientists let computers unveil chemical processes, such as a catalyst's purification of exhaust fumes or the photosynthesis in green leaves."

"The work of Karplus, Levitt and Warshel is groundbreaking in that they managed to make Newton's classical physics work side-by-side with the fundamentally different quantum physics. Previously, chemists had to choose to use either or," the release said.

The Nobel winners in chemistry for this year devised methods that use both classical and quantum physics.

"For instance, in simulations of how a drug couples to its target protein in the body, the computer performs quantum theoretical calculations on those atoms in the target protein that interact with the drug. The rest of the large protein is simulated using less demanding classical physics," the release said.

About the Nobel laureates (Source: www.nobelprize.org)

Martin Karplus: Born in 1930 in Vienna, Karplus has a dual citizenship of Austria and US. He did his PhD in 1953 from California Institute of Technology. Karplus is associated as Professeur Conventionn, Universit de Strasbourg, France and Theodore William Richards Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.

Michael Levitt: Levitt has US and British citizenship. Born in 1947 in Pretoria, South Africa, he did his PhD in 1971 from University of Cambridge, UK. Currently, Levitt is the Robert W and Vivian K Cahill Professor in Cancer Research, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, USA.

Arieh Warshel: Born in 1940 in Kibbutz Sde-Nahum, Israel, Warshel did his PhD in 1969 from Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel. He has US and Israeli citizenship and is now a distinguished professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.

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