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Augmenting life — on Nobel Prize 2018

This year’s science Nobels compel us to relook at evolution, and also at gender parity

The Nobel Prize for Chemistry this year is a tribute(सम्मान/पुरस्कार/श्रद्धांजलि) to the power of evolution(विकास/वृद्धि). Thelaureates(पुरस्कार विजेता) harnessed(उपयोग करना/अघीन करना) evolution and used it in the laboratory with amazing results. Frances H. Arnold, an American who was given one-half of the prize, used ‘directed evolution’ to synthesise(संश्लेषण) variants(प्रकार/रूपांतर) of naturally occurring(घटनेवाला/दिखाई) enzymes that could be used to manufacture biofuels and pharmaceuticals. The other half went to George P. Smith, also of the U.S., and Sir Gregory P. Winter, from the U.K., who evolved(विकसित/प्रस्तुत) antibodies to combat(सामना/लड़ना) autoimmune(स्व-प्रतिरक्षित) diseases(रोगों/व्याधि) and even metastatic cancer through a process called phage display. The prizes reaffirm(साबित करना/पुष्टि करना) the importance of the concept of evolution in our understanding of life as among the most profound of forces we are exposed to. The Physiology and Medicine prize has gone to the American James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo, from Japan, for showing how different strategies(रणनीतियाँ/कूट नीतियां) can inhibit(रोकना/मना करना) the metaphorical ‘brakes’ acting on the immune(प्रतिरक्षा) system and thereby unleash the system’s power on cancer cells to curb their proliferation(फैलाव/तीव्र वृद्धि). These immunologists have enhanced(बढ़ाया/ज़्यादा किया हुआ) the power of the body’s immune system to go beyond its natural capacity.

Arthur Ashkin, from the U.S., has been awarded one-half of the Physics prize, for enabling us to individually hold, study andmanipulate(कुशलतापूर्वक /हेरफेर/सफ़ाई से बरताना) tiny(छोटे) bacteria and viruses using ‘optical(प्रकाशीय) tweezers(चिमटी/मोचनी)’. In many laboratories, optical tweezers are used to study and manipulate subcellular structures such as DNA and little molecular motors. Optical holography, wherein thousands of such optical tweezers can operate together on, say, blood, to separate(अलग/ख़ास) damaged blood cells from healthy ones could be a treatment process for malaria. The parallel(समानांतर/अनुकूल होना) is clearly in how this work has, individually, enabled us to reach out beyond what is permitted(अनुमितप्राप्त/अनुज्ञप्त) by our sensory(संवेदनात्मक/ग्रहणशील) and physiological(शारीरिक) capabilities(क्षमताओं). Gérard Mourou, from France, and Donna Strickland, from Canada, who share the other half of the Physics prize, have been honoured for their methods to generate ultra-short pulses of laser light. The work, published in 1985, went into Ms. Strickland’s PhD thesis and soon revolutionised(क्रांति ला दी) the field. Among its uses are in Lasik surgery in ophthalmology, and in making surgical stents. More recently, attosecond lasers have even made it possible to observe(निरीक्षण/पालन करना) individual electrons. In sum, the prize-winners have drawn upon the fundamental forces in science and reached out beyond human physical limitations. However, the world of science can do with some introspection. For, two of the six laureates – Donna Strickland and Frances Arnold – are women. They are only the third and fifth women Nobel laureates in Physics and Chemistry, respectively, since the inception(शुरूआत/सूत्रपात) of the Nobel prizes. Along with the celebrations(उत्सव/समारोह), this statistic gives reason for the community of scientists to introspect(आत्मनिरीक्षण) over what makes an enabling environment for women to practise science in.



Important Vocabulary

Synonyms: change, enlargement, expansion, growth, progression
Antonyms: decrease, lessening, reduction, shrinkage, stagnation

2.Laureates(पुरस्कार विजेता
Synonyms: laureate, major poet

Synonyms: action, conflict, contest, encounter, engagement
Antonyms: agreement, calm, harmony, peace, surrender

Synonyms: exempt, resistant, unaffected, clear, free
Antonyms: hindered, susceptible, unguarded, unprotected, vulnerable

5.Proliferation(फैलाव/तीव्र वृद्धि).
Synonyms: generation, procreation, propagation, reproduction

6.Observe(निरीक्षण/पालन करना
Synonyms: detect, discover, examine, inspect, look at
Antonyms: disbelieve, forget, ignore, miss, neglect

Synonyms: initiation, outset, birth, commencement, dawn
Antonyms: conclusion, end, close, completion, consequence

8.Parallel(समानांतर/अनुकूल होना)
Synonyms: coordinate, lateral, alongside, coextending, coextensive
Antonyms: crooked, different, dissimilar, divergent, separate

9.Manipulate(कुशलतापूर्वक /हेरफेर
Synonyms: employ, shape, wield, feel, finger
Antonyms: destroy, idle, leave alone



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