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Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Eric Betzig

Nobel week is a fascinating time of year. Each day brings an announcement of one of the prizes, in a way that starts with the hard sciences and seems to build toward the politically contentious pair -- Peace and Economics.

The news in the hard sciences is intriguing (and political in its own way surely, though I am happily abstracted from the sort of academic politics that would manifest itself in such matters). It is intriguing because the bestowal of an award on someone who certainly ISN'T a household name, like the chemists Eric Betzig, Stefan Hell, and William Moerner this year, forces various bright science journalists to explain their life work to the rest of us. And I always enjoy getting some easily digestible field about a subject to which I never otherwise give any thought at all.

Here is the prize committee's own explanation of the work of the three chemists who win this year.

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I've put a photo of Eric Betzig at the top of this post -- due respect to the others named -- and so I'll include the official biography of Betzig.

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This is all about nanotechnology, which may be the critical way forward for our species. Nina Porzucki, for PRI The World, explains nanotech and this Nobel's recognition of the field here:

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Porzucki's essay includes a now-obligatory reference to a lecture delivered by Richard Feynman in 1959 that serves as sort of a manifesto for the field to this day. "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom." Now I've referenced it, too. I told you it was obligatory.

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And here is coverage of the subject from India:

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Here's an explanation of why I think this field of science might just be THE issue in our day that will still matter, say, 1,000 years from now.

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