Nobel Prize Award for Chemistry 1956 - 1965

About the winners of the Nobel Prize for chemistry from 1956 to 1965 including Hinshelwood, Libby, and Hodgkin, what they won for, as well as behind the scenes information on the decision.

1956 Cyril N. Hinshelwood (1897-1967), British.

Nikolai N. Semenov (1896- ), Russian. Work: Performed parallel but independent studies on the mechanism of chemical reactions.

Behind the Award--The investigations which brought the U.S.S.R. its sole Chemistry Prize, shared with Hinshelwood, were in the specialized branch of chemistry called reaction kinetics. Only twice before (in 1901 and 1909) had the Academy given awards in this field. The 2 scientists, working independently in Leningrad and in Oxford, learned that a great many chemical processes are the result of a chain of reaction as the molecules recombine. Semenov's early work began with experimental studies on explosions. Hinshelwood considered problems of a wider scope.

1957 Alexander R. Todd (1907- ), British. Work: Studied the nucleotides and the nucleotidic coenzymes.

1958 Frederick Sanger (1918- ), British. Work: Isolated and identified the amino acid components of the insulin molecule.

1959 Jaroslav Heyrovsky (1890-1967), Czech. Work: Invented and developed the polarographic method of analysis.

1960 Willard F. Libby (1908- ), American. Work: Developed the "atomic time clock" for determining geologic age by measuring the amount of carbon 14 in organic substances.

Behind the Award--With the death of any living thing, the carbon atoms inside its tissues begin to decay at a rate that can be predicted. Libby created the carbon 14 clock, a Geiger-counter device which recorded how much carbon had been lost by an object since its life ended. By figuring the amount of loss, Libby could tell how much time had passed since the object's death. Thus, Libby's time clock could date ancient bones, wood, papyrus as far back as 60,000 years. This discovery proved the Dead Sea Scrolls were authentic and the Piltdown man was a hoax.

1961 Melvin Calvin (1911- ), American. Work: Established the chemical reactions which occur during photosynthesis.

1962 Max F. Perutz (1914- ), British (b. Austria).

John C. Kendrew (1917- ), British. Work: Discovered the molecular structure of myoglobin and hemoglobin.

1963 Karl Ziegler (1898- ), German.

Giulio Natta (1903- ), Italian. Work: Changed simple hydrocarbons into complex molecular compounds.

1964 Dorothy C. Hodgkin (1910- ), British. Work: Determined the structure for biochemical substances such as penicillin and vitamin B12.

Behind the Award--Except for the Curies, Mrs. Hodgkin is the only woman to win the Chemistry Prize. Her brilliant analysis of vitamin B12's structure was ranked as a crowning triumph in the history of X-ray crystallography.

1965 Robert B. Woodward (1917- ), American. Work: Developed techniques for the syntheses of involved organic compounds, specifically chlorophyll and sterols.

Behind the Award--Woodward's achievements in synthesis are legion, ranging from quinine, cholesterol, cortisone, to strychnine. His successes with complex substances previously given up on by other scientists led his nominators to remark, "He has shown that almost no synthesis is impossible."

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