NEWS

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October 11, 2009

Area man wins Nobel Peace prize

President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize Sunday, as some of you may have heard already, surprising pundits and politicians around the world (journalists covering the press conference apparently gasped when they found out).

The Nobel committee awarded "Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons," calling him "the world's leading spokesman" for peace.

Obama, a former lecturer at the Law School for 12 years, got some mileage out of the award at home, even as several former Peace Prize winners called his win premature and undeserved. Local media combed Hyde Park for barbers and diners heaping praise on the Kenwood resident. Valois even went so far as to put the "Obama Special" back on the menu this weekend--raising the question of why they would ever take it off.

Obama wasn't the only U of C professor to win a Nobel last week, however. Ada Yonath, who once visited the University from Israel's Weizmann Institute in 1977, was one of three scientists to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry Thursday.

Yonath, Thomas Steitz of Yale, and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan of Cambridge, were honored last week for their work mapping ribosomes, organelles that translate DNA into proteins inside the cell. Using high-tech X-rays at the University's Argonne Laboratory, the trio were able to create 3-D ribosome maps, down to an atomic level.

"This knowledge can be put to a practical and immediate use; many of today's antibiotics cure various diseases by blocking the function of bacterial ribosomes. Without functional ribosomes, bacteria cannot survive," the Nobel committee said.