Applied X-ray spectroscopy

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

This year’s Nobel Prize goes to the field of computational chemistry. It seems very important to point out that the prize was awarded to a field rather than individuals. The last Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to computational chemistry went to Walter Kohn and John A Pople for the development of the density-functional theory and of computational methods in quantum chemistry. A lot has been written about the importance of computational chemistry to nearly every chemist out there, so I will spare you another analysis like this.

But I came across one bit of information, that was very interesting for me personally, being an Austrian citizen. This years winners, Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel, all work in the US but have multiple nationalities. Due to the geographical link and sharing the same country of birth, I read Martin Karplus’ biography, which was published in Annual Review of Biophysics and Biomolecular Structure.

Martin Karplus was born in Vienna and in his biography he describes a lovely (and very Austrian) childhood. Sadly, as so many other great scientists and thinkers, he and his family had to flee Austria after the Anschluss, first moved to Switzerland and then to the US. One of the most moving statements in his biography is his perception of past and present Austria: “To this day, more than 65 years later, I have mixed feelings about visiting Austria, which I rarely do, because anti-Semitism seems nearly as prevalent now as it was then.” He wrote this in 2006.

You can find the complete text here.

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