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Nobel Experience Workshops

Nobel Experiments Workshops – Exploring Science the Nobel Way!

The Nobel Experiments Workshops allow students to experience a series of ground breaking experiments that were related to Nobel Prizes. Each student will get to attend 2, out of 5 Nobel Experiments Workshops.

1. Opticks

The world has become a smaller place in this modern-day age of high-speed technology and fast-paced communications. Fiber optics – in which light is reflected inside plastic or glass fibers – forms the basic structure of our telecommunications system, creating a mesh of networked societies which are able to keep in constant contact. The reduction of attenuation in optical fibers, as proposed by Charles K. Kao and George  A. Hockham, has allowed optical fibers to become a practical communication medium. This discovery led to Charles Kao being awarded the Nobel Prize in 2009.

In this workshop, students will begin with the basics of light and learn about light properties such as reflection and refraction through our unique optics sets. Students will also get to carry out experiments investigating critical angles and attenuation rates, which form the basis for fiber optics technology. Some useful applications of optical fibers in our everyday life will also be introduced.

2. Holography

Developed in the late 1940s, Holography is a technique that enables an electromagnetic wave, scattered off an object to be recorded and thereafter reconstructed even when the original object is no longer present. Despite its early development, holography technology only made ground-breaking advances during the development of laser in the 1960s. For this revolutionary work, Dennis Gabor was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1971 ‘for his invention and development of the holographic method’. Holography has since found very practical and far-reaching applications in the field of Data Storage, Sensor Technology, Bio-imaging, Security, Microscopy and even the arts.

In this workshop, students will be exposed to an in-depth treatment of the theory of Holography and the concepts of interference and diffraction. A practical session will be conducted where students will be given the opportunity to construct their own reflection holographic image on a film sheet using a specialized holographic kit.

3. Chromatography  

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1952 was awarded jointly to Archer John Porter Martin and Richard Laurence Millington Synge "for their invention of partition chromatography". Chromatography is the science which studies the separation of compounds based on differences in their structure and/or composition. Chromatography involves a sample being dissolved in a mobile phase (which may be a gas or a liquid). The mobile phase is then forced through an immiscible stationary phase. Chromatographic separations can be carried out using a variety of supports, including immobilized silica on glass plates (thin layer chromatography) and paper (paper chromatography). Column chromatography is another isolation and purification techniques used extensively by organic chemists to obtain pure samples of chemicals from natural sources or from reaction sequences.

In this workshop, students will be exposed to the separation of the pigments from the spinach using thin layer chromatography and column chromatography. 

4. One Gene One Enzyme

In the early 1900s, scientists knew that genes were behind the phenotypes observed; it was how these genes contributed to the manifestation of different phenotypes that was a mystery. The first ever postulation that gene function was related to metabolic pathways was ignored for over 40 years, perhaps due to the lack of clear evidence collected in a methodical manner. However, an immaculately designed experiment in the 1950s demonstrated that each mutation resulted in the loss of activity of one enzyme. This was termed the “One Gene, One Enzyme” hypothesis; and the 1958 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Beadle and Tatum for their discovery “that genes act by regulating definite chemical events”.

In this workshop, students will get a chance to carry out an experiment with pink bread mould which lends support to the “One Gene, One Enzyme” hypothesis. They will also revisit the basis for the “One Gene, One Enzyme” hypothesis, and discuss the reasons for its revision in recent years. 

5. RNAi

In 1990, Jorgensen, a researcher at the University of Arizona, wanted to make petunias a deeper purple. He injected purple petunia flowers with the gene for pigment coloration. Surprisingly, the flowers bloomed white! Instead of the pigment producing genes complementing each other to produce a deeper purple, they seemed to have interacted and turned themselves off. Fire and Mello later discovered the reason why – and won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in the process, for their “discovery of RNA interference – gene silencing by double-stranded RNA”.

In this workshop, students will investigate the phenomenon of RNAi with the nematode worm C.elegans, using a protocol similar to the one carried out by Fire and Mello. They will induce RNAi by feeding worms with bacteria containing double-stranded RNA. They will discuss how the perception of the roles of RNA has broadened: from RNA being necessary in the process of turning genes on, to also being capable of turning genes off.