Science & Technology


In today's interview, Kuryer Polski hosts Ryszard Jankowiak, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Ancillary Distinguished Professor of Physics of Kansas State University.

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Today, it is difficult to avoid the omnipresent news about the course of vaccinations against COVID-19, or about their alleged risks and harmful effects, or about their effectiveness, or lack thereof. Many people express their opinions on this subject, both publicly and privately, but few really understand how – on the basis of which principles – these vaccines work at all, what their mechanism is, what their risks are, and how they are different and novel, compared to the traditional ones. We all know that they were developed and approved for use extremely quickly – as far as vaccines go – in less than a year; but hardly anyone realizes why it was even possible. Let's try here, at least in part, to answer these questions and, along the way, point to the partially Polish origin of the technology that made these vaccines possible.

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Unfortunately, we will not be able to celebrate the hundred-year jubilee of one of the greatest personalities of Polish science. We report with sadness that on Wednesday, December 16, 2020, at the age of 99, professor Wacław Szybalski, an outstanding researcher, a true genius of molecular genetics, called the "king of genetics", repeatedly mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize, honorary doctor of many universities, passed away. In prof. Wacław Szybalski, we say farewell to an excellent specialist in genetics and molecular medicine, and to the father of the so-called synthetic biology. He was a world-class scientist, mentor, educator, model for many Polish researchers, and - at the same time - a great Pole and an active patriot.

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The prestigious Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2020 was awarded to two women: French chemist Emmanuelle Charpentier, today associated with the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, and American Jennifer A. Doudn, from the University of California at Berkeley. The award was granted for developing the method of gene editing.

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This year's prestigious Nobel Prize in physics went to three outstanding scientists. Half (50%) of the award went to the famous British mathematician and physicist Sir Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford. It is of particular interest to us, as the scientist has recently been working closely with Polish scientists. The remainder of the award (25% each) was split equally between two astrophysicists associated with California University at Berkeley: Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez.

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History of the Nobel Prize
Andrzej (Andrew) Woźniewicz

Alfred Bernhard Nobel, the Swedish inventor and founder of the famous Prize by his name, was a rather controversial figure. He was a loner, living in isolation, traveling a lot, never got married, had few friends, and was very distant with his family. Politically conservative, for example, he was against allowing women to vote, and was not particularly liked as a manager. Once he became seriously ill, the only person who visited him was his employee. He lived in hotels and in his laboratories, which is why Victor Hugo called him "the richest vagabond in Europe".

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