Tag Archives: Ada Yonath

3rd Frontiers for Young Minds collection of stories by Nobel Laureates

Frontiers publishes peer-reviewed, open access, scientific journals and materials for children through their children’s magazine, “Frontiers for Young Minds” (see my November 18, 2013 post about the magazine’s inception) and The Nobel Collection featuring science stories for children written by Nobel laureates (see my February 22, 2022 post for the first collection and my June 9, 2023 post for the second collection.

Caption: Frontiers for Young Minds Nobel Collection Volume 3 Credit: Frontiers

Here’s news about Frontiers’ third ‘The Nobel Collection’ from a September 20, 2023 Frontiers news release on EurekAlert,

Frontiers for Young Minds, an award-winning, non-profit, open-access scientific journal for kids, has released the third volume of its Nobel Collection today. The new volume features five articles on topics from using a glowing protein found in jellyfish to understand cell function to studying the smallest units of matter. Prior to publication, the distinguished scientists worked with young reviewers aged 8-15 to ensure their articles were interesting and understandable for young readers. 

Launched in 2013, Frontiers for Young Minds inspires the next generation of scientists by making science accessible and engaging for young people. It provides reliable and up-to-date information on various topics in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM). Through a unique review process, kids engage in dialogue with leading researchers worldwide, empowering the young reviewers with a better understanding not only of the science of the article, but of the scientific process and the importance of validating information. While learning about the world around them, young reviewers develop confidence, critical thinking, and communication skills. 

The Nobel Collection is a special series of articles by Nobel Laureates. This third volume of the collection is an exciting new, educational installment for children and adults alike. The first and second volumes of the collection consist of 10 articles each, covering topics from discovering life on other planets to superfluids that defy gravity.  

In this latest release, the scientists share their insights on the following topics: 

  • The Quirky Lives of Quarks: A Close Look into Matter, written by David Gross, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004.  
    Atoms are small units of matter that create everything we see. Inside atoms there are subatomic particles such as protons and neutrons, which compose the nucleus of the atom. Protons and neutrons are themselves composed of even smaller units called quarks. David Gross discovered how these quarks interact, explaining why the attraction force between them gets weaker as they get closer together and stronger as they move further apart. 
  • Molecular Flashlights that Light Up Science, written by Martin Chalfie, awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2008.  
    Green fluorescent protein (GPF) is a tiny glowing molecule that was originally found in glowing jellyfish. Martin Chalfie developed a way to use GFP as a marker that scientists can use to learn what is going on inside cells and organisms. Since his breakthrough, GFP was used in many different studies, helping scientists understand how cells work, how certain viruses cause diseases, and how proteins fold. 
  • The Ribosome – The Factory for Protein Production According to the Genetic Code, written by Ada Yonath, awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009.  
    Proteins are small biological machines that work in our bodies as well as in the bodies of all animals, plants, viruses, and bacteria. They are produced by a protein production ‘factory’ in cells called the ribosome. Ada Yonath developed a method for studying the structure and function of ribosomes. This method could be used to study how antibiotics work and improve them.  
  • The Secrets of Secretion: Protein Transport in Cells, written by Randy Schekman, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2013.  
    Cells release substances to the blood and to other cells via a process called secretion. For a substance to be secreted, it needs to travel between different stations within the cell and then cross the outer envelope of the cell called a membrane. This travel of a substance within and outside a cell is performed by small carriers called vesicles, which are like little cars that take a passenger substance to its destination. Randy Schekman identified different stations that this ‘car’ goes through within the cell, and significantly contributed to understanding the whole pathway of this fundamental process of secretion. 
  • Seeing Beyond the Limits with Super-Resolution Microscopy, written by Eric Betzig, awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2014.  
    Scientists often want to look at very small objects in order to study them. For many years it was believed that we cannot look with visible light on objects that are smaller than a fundamental property of light called its wavelength (the distance between two peaks in the light wave). Eric Betzig was able to break that limit using a method based on glowing molecules that are attached to the object scientists want to study. This paved the way for scientists to look at objects they could never see before. 

The third volume will expand with more Nobel Laureate authors later this year, providing young readers the opportunity to learn even more about important discoveries. 

Commenting on the new volume, Frontiers for Young Minds head of program Laura Henderson says: “It’s wonderful to now have three volumes of our Nobel collection and so many Nobelist authors joining us to provide kids with access to their work. We want to ensure all science enthusiasts can read Nobel Prize-winning scientific concepts. With over 1.5 million reads and downloads of the articles in volumes one and two, I can’t wait to see volume three inspire our young readers even more.” 

To find out more, watch this video. [29 secs. runtime]


First ever UN (United Nations) Scientific Advisory Board launches with 26 members

Thanks to David Bruggeman and his Oct. 23, 2013 posting (on the Pasco Phronesis blog where he tracks science policy issues in the US and other countries/jurisdictions as he is able) for information about the UN (United Nations) and its new scientific advisory board (Note: Links have been removed),

Ending the beginning of a process that has been at least a year in the making, the United Nation named the first members of the Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board (H/T ScienceInsider).

Here’s more from the Oct. 18, 2013 UN press release,

Twenty-six eminent scientists, representing natural, social and human sciences and engineering, have been appointed to a Scientific Advisory Board, announced by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. The new Board will provide advice on science, technology and innovation (STI) for sustainable development to the UN Secretary-General and to Executive Heads of UN organizations. UNESCO will host the Secretariat for the Board.

The members of the Scientific Advisory Board are:

·         Tanya Abrahamse (South Africa), CEO, South African National Biodiversity Institute;

·         Susan Avery (United States of America), President and Director, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution;

·         Hilary McDonald Beckles (Barbados), Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal, University of the West Indies;

·         Joji Cariño (Philippines), Director, Forest Peoples Programme;

·         Rosie Cooney (Australia), Visiting Fellow, University of Sciences, Sydney;

·         Abdallah Daar (Oman), Professor of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada;

·         Gebisa Ejeta (Ethiopia), Professor of Agronomy, Purdue University, United States;

·         Vladimir Fortov (Russian Federation), President of the Russian Academy of Sciences;

·         Fabiola Gianotti (Italy), Research physicist and former Coordinator of ATLAS Experiment, CERN, Geneva, Switzerland;

·         Ke Gong (China), President of Nankai University;

·         Jörg Hinrich Hacker (Germany), President, German National Academy of Sciences – Leopoldina;

·         Maria Ivanova (Bulgaria), Professor of Global Governance, University of Massachusetts, United States;

·         Eugenia Kalnay (Argentina), Professor of Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences, University of Maryland, Unites States;

·         Eva Kondorosi (Hungary), Research Professor, Biological Research Centre, Academy of Sciences of Hungary;

·         Reiko Kuroda (Japan), Professor, Research Institute for Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Science;

·         Dong-Pil Min (Republic of Korea), Emeritus Professor, Seoul National University;

·         Carlos Nobre (Brazil), Senior Climate Scientist, National Secretary for R&D Policies;

·         Rajendra Kumar Pachauri (India), Director-General, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI); Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – Nobel Laureate for Peace;

·         Shankar Sastry (United States of America), Dean, College of Engineering, University of California, Berkeley;

·         Hayat Sindi (Saudi Arabia), Founder and CEO, Institute of Imagination and Ingenuity;

·         Wole Soboyejo (Nigeria), President, African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Garki;

·         Laurence Tubiana (France), Director, Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), Paris;

·         Judi Wakhungu (Kenya), Professor of Energy Resources Management, First Cabinet Secretary, Ministry for Environment, Water and Natural Resources;

·         Ada Yonath (Israel), Director, Helen and  Milton A. Kimmelman Centre for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly, Weizmann Institute of Sciences; Nobel Laureate in Chemistry;

·         Abdul Hamid Zakri (Malaysia), Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia; Chair, Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES);

·         Ahmed Zewail (Egypt), Director, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, United States; Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.

The countries listed beside the individual member’s names appears to be their country of origin, e.g., Abdallah Daar (Oman), Professor of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada, which may or may not be where they are currently located. In any event, they seem to have representation from every continent in one way or another. One other observation, it seems that the gender split is either 50/50 or tilted toward participation from women. (I’m not familiar enough with some of the language groups to be able to identify male as opposed to female first names, not to mention names that are androgynous.)

Moving on, I found these passages of the UN’s news release of particular interest,

“The creation of the Scientific Advisory Board follows on a wide-ranging consultation work entrusted to UNESCO by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.  “It brings together scientists of international stature, and will serve as a global reference point to improve links between science and public policies.”

The Board is the first such body set up by the UN Secretary-General to influence and shape action by the international community to advance sustainable development and eradicate poverty. The initiative derives from the report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future worth choosing (January, 2012). This report recommended the launch of a “major global scientific initiative to strengthen the interface between policy and science. This should include the preparation of regular assessments and digests of the science around such concepts as “planetary boundaries”, “tipping points” and “environmental thresholds” in the context of sustainable development”.

The fields covered by the Board range from the basic sciences, through engineering and technology, social sciences and humanities, ethics, health, economic, behavioral, and agricultural sciences, in addition to the environmental sciences.[emphasis mine]

Board members will act in their personal capacity and will provide advice on a strictly independent basis. They will serve pro bono for two years, with the possibility of renewal for one further two-year term, upon the decision of the Secretary-General. The first session of the Board will be held at the beginning of 2014.

I applaud the range of fields they’ve tried to include in the advisory board. As for serving pro bomo for two years, that’s very good of the individual appointees. Still, It’s hard to know how much time will be required and I doubt anyone is going to be out-of-pocket, as presumably there will be trips and other perks courtesy of the UN or home institutions or someone’s national budget. There’s also the prestige associated with being appointed by the UN to this advisory council (good for the CV), not to mention the networking possibilities that could open up.

Despite pointing out that this is not entirely selfless service, I wish the members of UN’s Scientific Advisory Board well in their efforts.