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Nobel Prize Notes

On Pharyngula, PZ Myers examines the work of Yoshinori Ohsumi, who was awarded the prize in Physiology for his studies of autophagy in yeast. Autophagy, or self-consumption, is a strategy used by all cells to recycle malfunctioning bits of themselves, or to survive during times of starvation. But autophagy is also involved in cancer metastasis and may play a role in other diseases such as Parkinson’s. Meanwhile, the Nobel prize in Physics did not go to LIGO and the observation of gravitational waves as widely expected. Instead it was divided between three individuals for “theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.” Ethan Siegel writes that their work has “led to a whole suite of new research, and is leading towards breakthroughs in electronics and quantum computing.” As for the prize in Literature, Martin Rundkvist says “I would have an opinion on Bob Dylan’s latest prize if I thought the Swedish Academy’s taste in literary matters was a big deal. And if I cared one way or the other about Bob Dylan.”