Society: Arts and Science – May 30


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.
Boris Leonidovich Pasternak died on this date in 1960. Hw was a Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator. In his native Russia, Pasternak’s first book of poems, My Sister, Life (1917), is one of the most influential collections ever published in the Russian language. Pasternak’s translations of stage plays by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, and William Shakespeare remain very popular with Russian audiences. Outside Russia, Pasternak is best known as the author of Doctor Zhivago (1958), a novel which takes place between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and the Second World War. Due to the novel’s independent-minded stance on the socialist state, Doctor Zhivago was rejected for publication in the USSR. At the instigation of Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, Doctor Zhivago was smuggled to Milan and published in 1957. Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958, an event which both humiliated and enraged the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which forced him to decline the prize, though his descendants were later to accept it in his name in 1988.
Sir Andrew Fielding Huxley OM PRS died on this date in 2012. He was a Nobel Prize-winning English physiologist and biophysicist.[1][2] He was born into the prominent Huxley family. After graduating from Westminster School in Central London, from where he won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, he joined Alan Lloyd Hodgkin to study nerve impulses. Their eventual discovery of the basis for propagation of nerve impulses (called an action potential) earned them the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1963. They made their discovery from the giant axon of the Atlantic squid. Soon after the outbreak of the Second World War, Huxley was recruited by the British Anti-Aircraft Command and later transferred to the Admiralty. After the war he resumed research at The University of Cambridge, where he developed interference microscopy that would be suitable for studying muscle fibres. In 1952 he was joined by a German physiologist Rolf Niedergerke. Together they discovered in 1954 the mechanism of muscle contraction, popularly called the “sliding filament theory”, which is the foundation of our modern understanding of muscle mechanics. In 1960 he became head of the Department of Physiology at University College London. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1955, and President in 1980. The Royal Society awarded him the Copley Medal in 1973 for his collective contributions to the understanding of nerve impulses and muscle contraction. He was conferred a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974, and was appointed to the Order of Merit in 1983. He was a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, until his death.