Hartmut Michel (1989) - Structure and function of a biological light energy converter

Hartmut Michel (1989)

Structure and function of a biological light energy converter

Hartmut Michel (1989)

Structure and function of a biological light energy converter

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Hartmut Michel received his Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1988 at the rather young age of 40. It so happened that already the next year the Lindau meeting was dedicated to chemistry. Being a German citizen, Michel would of course have been invited anyway. But this way his audience mainly consisted of chemistry interested young researchers and students together with Nobel Laureates in Chemistry. For them he introduced himself as “still an ordinary scientist”. On the speaker’s list were, among others, Michel’s two co-Laureates, Johann Deisenhofer and Robert Huber. The three Laureates gave their respective lectures in the logical order: Michel mainly on the problems of crystallization of biological membranes, Deisenhofer on the X-ray diffraction measurements and the three-dimensional structure of such membranes and Huber on the workings of a photosynthetic reaction centre based on such membranes. Interestingly enough, present in the audience was also 1964 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin. Starting in the 1930’s, she had gone through all three phases of structural work with other biological molecules, such as insulin and penicillin. Her lecture at this Lindau meeting, her last, was appropriately entitled “A life in science”. When the Lindau meetings started in 1951, most of the lectures were in German and since the main part of the audience was German speaking, no translation was offered. But over the years, the meetings became more and more international and starting 1968, simultaneous translations in both directions was offered. So Hartmut Michel’s lecture is available in the original German and also in a simultaneous translated English version. Michel and Deisenhofer collaborated on the written version of their Nobel Lectures from December 8, 1988, and one may use it to find some of the illustrations that Michel is using in Lindau.

Anders Bárány

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