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International Year of Chemistry and 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

January 4, 2011

Professors Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and Irwin Rose of the University of California, Irvine, were awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering the mechanism that removes damaged or unnecessary proteins. As part of the body’s quality control mechanism, proteins are destroyed after fulfilling their function. These proteins are labeled for destruction by another small protein called ubiquitin, whose general structure is shown on one of the stamps. Once tagged by this “kiss of death” the labeled proteins are removed by a biological shredding machine, called the proteasome.

International Year of Chemistry and 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

January 4, 2011

The 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded jointly to professors Ada E. Yonath of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan of the Medical Research Council, Cambridge, UK, and Thomas A. Steitz of Yale University, USA, for showing what the ribosome looks like and how it functions. The ribosome is the biological machine in every living cell that makes proteins from amino acids. Understanding the ribosomal structure and its operating mechanism is critical for understanding of all kinds of life and for developing new antibiotics. The image on the stamp shows the large ribosomal subunit with the ribosomal proteins (orange), the ribosomal RNA (blue and pink) together with the antibiotic erythromycin (red), which blocks it.

Souvenir Leaf: International Year of Chemistry 2011

Chemistry is a fascinating science that is concerned with the material world on a molecular level, dealing with the structures of molecules, their aggregates and their interactions with other molecules and with all forms of energy. Understanding fundamental processes such as storage, transmission, and conversion of information and energy is possible only through a sufficient command of the molecular basis of these processes. Therefore, chemistry plays a central role in all basic and applied fields of science, including physics, biology, medicine and all technological disciplines. The explosive growth of the world population challenges humankind with severe problems, such as limited energy and food, human health, global warming, lack of fresh water, air and water pollution, disappearing raw materials, increased urbanization, quality of life, etc. If we’ll ever be able to meet these challenges, it will be mainly through chemical science and chemical industry. With the launch of the International Year of Chemistry, all members of the Israel Chemical Society, including chemists, chemical engineers and chemistry teachers, share the excitement and pride of being Israeli chemists.

International Year of Crystallography and 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

December 3, 2014

In April 1982, while examining an aluminum-manganese alloy as a visiting scholar at the National Bureau of Standards in Maryland, USA, Prof. Dan Shechtman of the Technion, discovered a new form of matter, quasiperiodic crystals, also known as quasicrystals. At that time the discovery spurred a lot of debate since only periodic crystals were known to exist prior to the discovery and some of his colleagues ridiculed Shechtman. He spent a lot of time convincing colleagues about the veracity of his interpretation. His achievement was clearly not only the discovery of quasicrystals, but also the realization of the importance of this result and the determination to communicate it to a skeptical scientific community. Almost thirty years later Prof. Shechtman became the sole recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The Nobel Committee explained that his discovery was extremely controversial, but that his work eventually forced scientists to reconsider their conception of the very nature of matter. In fact, the discovery of quasiperiodic crystals opened up a new field in science, hundreds of such materials were discovered and their unusual properties were reported in thousands of research articles and more than 40 scientific books. Furthermore, the International Union of Crystallography changed its basic definition of a crystal in light of Shechtman’s breakthrough.The flowers-like image on the stamp is an electron microscope picture of icosahedral quasicrystal aggregates in an aluminum-manganese alloy. The background exhibits an electron diffraction pattern from an icosahedral quasicrystal and the perfect pentagonal symmetry is highlighted in the diagram.

Souvenir Leaf: International Year of Crystallography 2014

Crystals - familiar to all in gemstones, glittering snowflakes or grains of salt – are everywhere in nature. The study of their inner structure and properties gives us our deepest insights into the arrangement of atoms in the solid state - insights that advance the sciences of chemistry, physics, biology and medicine. Crystalline materials have a distinguished roll in the Jewish culture and scripture. The most obvious examples are the stones of the breastplate, described in Exodus. The Choshen, a fancy clothing item that was carried by the high priest, was composed of 12 various precious stones and each was named after one of the tribes of Israel. The souvenir leaf displays the 12 stones in their natural crystalline forms, demonstrating the marvelous shapes and colors given to us by Nature. A century has passed since crystals first yielded their secrets to X-rays. In that time, crystallography has become the very core of structural science, showing us the structure of DNA, allowing us to understand and fabricate computer memories, showing us how proteins are created in cells, and helping us to design powerful new materials and drugs. That is why in July 2012 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the resolution that 2014 should be the International Year of Crystallography, 100 years since the Nobel Prize was awarded to the first crystallographers, father and son William and Lawrence Bragg.

Negev Nobel Project

The Negev-Nobel program aims at encouraging high school pupils of the Southern towns, including Dimona, Yeruham, Netivot, Sderot, Ofakim, Kiryat Malachi and Mitzpe Ramon, to pursue chemistry education. The project reflects a fruitful collaboration between the Israel Chemical Society, Ministry of Education and the local-industrial council N’eot Hovav. In 2012-2013 six new chemistry classes were established in Dimona, Yeruham, Sdot Negev and Eilat with external chemistry teachers. All four Israeli Nobel Prize Laureates in Chemistry volunteered to help and encourage the pupils and teachers. The formal opening ceremony of the Negev-Nobel program took place on January 1st at the visitors' center of Teva Pharmaceuticals in Ne’ot Hovav in the presence of Ministers, Mayors, top executives of the Ministry of Educations and all four Israeli laureates of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In 2013-2014 the program has doubled with more classes and an increased number of attending pupils.

Mountain to Valley (M2V) Relay Race

The Mountain to Valley (M2V, Har La’Emek in Hebrew) race is the longest and most challenging relay Figure 11. The two Israeli stamps and date of issue envelope commemorating the IYC2011 depict the scientific achievements for which two Nobel prizes in chemistry were awarded to Israeli scientists. 41 בטאון החברה הישראלית לכימיה | גליון מספר 26 , פברואר 2012 Report on Meetings race in Israel, featuring 212 kilometers of dirt roads and mountainous paths from the foot of Mount Hermon along the vistas of the Hula Valley, the mountainous Jordan River, Sea of Galilee, the Beit Netofa Valley and the lower Galilee, the Jezreel Valley, all the way to the communal village of Timrat. This northern part of Israel in the spring season, on the first full-moon night after Passover, probably displays the most beautiful natural scenes of the country. Over 260 groups totaling over 1800 runners, most of them in teams of 8, took part in the 3rd M2V race, May19-20, 2011. 

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