Society: Arts and Science – June 13


The Nobel Prize is bestowed annually in categories as selected by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Jules Jean Baptiste Vincent Bordet was born on this date in 1870. He was a Belgian immunologist and microbiologist. The bacterial genus Bordetella is named after him. In March 1916 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and in 1930 delivered their Croonian Lecture. In this lecture Bordet also concluded that bacteriophages “the invisible virus of Felix d’Herelle”,a self-taught microbiologist, did not exist and that it was bacteria themselves which produce the lytic principle. He was to be proven incorrect later with Bacteriophage therapy then recognised as an alternative/complementary therapy in the fight against bacterial infections, starting with the treatment of patients in Paris by Felix d’Herelle. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to him in 1919 for his discoveries relating to immunity.
William Butler Yeats was born on this date in 1865. He was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms. Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and others, founded the Abbey Theatre, where he served as its chief during its early years. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature as the first Irishman so honoured[1] for what the Nobel Committee described as “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.” Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929).[2] Yeats was a very good friend of American expatriate poet and Bollingen Prize laureate Ezra Pound. Yeats wrote the introduction for Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali, which was published by the India Society. He was born in Dublin and educated there and in London; he spent his childhood holidays in County Sligo. He studied poetry in his youth and from an early age was fascinated by both Irish legends and the occult. Those topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the 20th century. His earliest volume of verse was published in 1889, and its slow-paced and lyrical poems display Yeats’s debts to Edmund Spenser, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the poets of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. From 1900, Yeats’s poetry grew more physical and realistic. He largely renounced the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he remained preoccupied with physical and spiritual masks, as well as with cyclical theories of life.
Georg von Békésy died on this date in 1972. He was a Hungarian biophysicist born in Budapest, Hungary. In 1961, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on the function of the cochlea in the mammalian hearing organ.