Society: Arts and Science – July 29


Nobel Prizes are bestowed annually by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Tobias Michel Karel Asser died on this date in 1913. He was a Dutch lawyer and legal scholar, cowinner (with Alfred Fried) of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1911 for his role in the formation of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the first Hague peace conference (1899).
Isidor Isaac Rabi was born on this date in 1898. He was a Polish-born American physicist and Nobel laureate, recognised in 1944 for his discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance, which is used in magnetic resonance imaging. He was also involved in the development of the cavity magnetron, which is used in microwave radar and microwave ovens. Born into a traditional Jewish family in Rymanów, Galicia, in what was then part of Austria-Hungary, Rabi came to the United States as a baby and was raised in New York’s Lower East Side. He entered Cornell University as an electrical engineering student in 1916 but soon switched to chemistry. Later, he became interested in physics. He continued his studies at Columbia University, where he was awarded his doctorate for a thesis on the magnetic susceptibility of certain crystals. In 1927, he headed for Europe, where he met and worked with many of the finest physicists of the time. In 1929 Rabi returned to the United States, where Columbia offered him a faculty position. In collaboration with Gregory Breit, he developed the Breit-Rabi equation and predicted that the Stern–Gerlach experiment could be modified to confirm the properties of the atomic nucleus. He developed techniques for using nuclear magnetic resonance to discern the magnetic moment and nuclear spin of atoms. This work led to his being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1944. Nuclear magnetic resonance became an important tool for nuclear physics and chemistry. The subsequent development of magnetic resonance imaging from it has made it important to medicine as well. During World War II he worked on radar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Radiation Laboratory and on the Manhattan Project. After the war, he served on the General Advisory Committee (GAC) of the Atomic Energy Commission and was chairman from 1952 to 1956. He also served on the Science Advisory Committee (SAC) of the Office of Defense Mobilization and was Science Advisor to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was involved with the establishment of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1946, and later, as United States delegate to UNESCO, with the creation of CERN in 1952. When Columbia created the rank of University Professor in 1964, Rabi was the first to receive such a chair. A special chair was named after him in 1985. He retired from teaching in 1967 but remained active in the department and held the title of University Professor Emeritus and Special Lecturer until his death.
Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld was born on this date in 1905. He was a Swedish diplomat, economist, and author. The second Secretary-General of the United Nations, he served from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961. At the age of 47 years, 255 days, Hammarskjöld is the youngest to have held the post. He is one of only three people to be awarded a posthumous Nobel Prize.[1] Hammarskjöld is the only UN Secretary-General to die in office; his death occurred en route to cease-fire negotiations. US President John F. Kennedy called Hammarskjöld “the greatest statesman of our century”.
Dorothy Mary Crowfoot Hodgkin OM FRS died on this date in 1994. She was a British biochemist who developed protein crystallography, for which she won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964. She advanced the technique of X-ray crystallography, a method used to determine the three-dimensional structures of biomolecules. Among her most influential discoveries is the confirmation of the structure of penicillin that Ernst Boris Chain and Edward Abraham had previously surmised, and then the structure of vitamin B12, for which she became the third woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In 1969, after 35 years of work and five years after winning the Nobel Prize, Hodgkin was able to decipher the structure of insulin. X-ray crystallography became a widely used tool and was critical in later determining the structures of many biological molecules where knowledge of structure is critical to an understanding of function. She is regarded as one of the pioneer scientists in the field of X-ray crystallography studies of biomolecules.