Nobel Prizes for Chemistry, Physics

By Nancy Steinbach

This is the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has announced the winners of the Nobel prizes for chemistry and physics.

Scientists say the awards this year are a change for the Royal Swedish Academy. In the past, the Nobel Prizes recognized work in pure scientific research. This year, the Academy honored scientists whose work changed the everyday world. The Academy said the winners created inventions that led to the start of modern information technology.

Two Americans and a Japanese scientist share the Nobel Prize in Chemistry of more than nine-hundred-thousand dollars. They are Alan Heeger of the University of California at Santa Barbara, Alan MacDiarmid of the University of Pennsylvania and Hideki Shirakawa of the University of Tsukuba in Japan. The three men worked together in the Nineteen-Seventies.

They created a plastic that carries electrical currents. Their work led to the development of plastics that act like metals. Plastic weighs less than metal and is easier to shape. The result has led to electronic devices that are lighter in weight and less costly. Their invention also is expected to lead to the development of extremely small computers.

Two Americans and a Russian scientist won the Nobel Prize in Physics for helping create modern communications devices. They also will share more than nine-hundred-thousand dollars in prize money. Jack Kilby was honored for his work in inventing the integrated circuit, also known as the microchip. This is the extremely small electronic device that powers computers, calculators and other electronic equipment. Mr. Kilby worked for the Texas Instruments Company in Dallas, Texas.

The other winners are Herbert Kroemer of the University of California at Santa Barbara and Zhores Alferov of the A. F. Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute in Saint Petersburg, Russia. They worked independently in the Nineteen-Sixties to develop electronic laser communication devices. These devices are now used in compact disc players, cellular telephones and satellite communications.

Mr. Alferov is the first Russian to win a Nobel Prize for science since Nineteen-Seventy-Eight.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by Nancy Steinbach

Voice of America Special English