Nobel Prize 2014 winners

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

microscope power
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to 3 scientists who figured out how to turn microscopes into ultra-powerful nanoscopes.

Every year, the prestigious Nobel Prize is awarded to people who have made major contributions to science and culture.

This year, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was given to 3 neuroscientists – John O’Keefe, May-Britt Moser, and Edvard Moser – who discovered how the brain’s “GPS” navigation cells allow us to track our position and remember where we’ve been before. This discovery helps scientists understand our nervous system and memory loss illnesses like Alzheimer’s.

The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to 3 scientists – Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura – who created blue light-emitting diodes (LED) that could be combined with red and green diodes to make white light. Energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly LED lights are now used to power everything from bedroom lamps to smartphones.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was bestowed upon 3 chemists – Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell, and William E. Moerner – who enhanced microscopes to magnify objects on the tiniest “nano” level. This form of “nanoscopy” can use focused light to see how the body works at a cellular level.

The Nobel Prize in Literature went to French author Patrick Modiano, who has published thirty or so short novels centered on memory, loss, identity, and seeking.

Last, but certainly not least, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to India’s Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai, two women who have campaigned for child education and young people’s rights. Since Yousafzai is only 17 years old, she’s the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Featured image courtesy of Tim Ereneta on Flickr. Image of microscope courtesy of NobelPrize.org.