• Issue: February 2015
  • Designer: David Ben-Hador
  • Stamp Size: 30 mm x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 977
  • Security mark: Microtext
  • Sheet of 15 stamps, Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Cartor Security Printing, France
  • Method of printing: Offset

This stamp marks two events that have much in common.

The first is the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry that was jointly awarded to Martin Karplus (Harvard University), Michael Levitt (Stanford University) and Arieh Warshel (University of Southern California) for the development of multi-scale models for complex chemical systems. The prize recognized their revolutionary contributions during the years 1968-1976, which created the new field of computational molecular biophysics and provided new approaches and techniques for understanding complex biological molecules. Their approach changed the way we think about proteins and defined a new area of science, which has influenced and inspired many other fields.

The second event is the International Year of Light 2015, which was declared by the United Nations to celebrate the light sciences, light-based technologies and their importance to humankind.

The Israeli component of this Nobel Prize is significant. Michael Levitt, born in 1947 in Pretoria, South Africa, holds both British and Israeli citizenship. Arieh Warshel, born in 1940 in Kibbutz Sde-Nahum, Israel is a citizen of both the USA and Israel. Martin Karplus, born in Vienna in 1930 to an Austrian Jewish family, fled with his family from the Nazi occupation to the USA in 1938. A substantial portion of the honored work was undertaken at the Weizmann Institute of Science when Warshel and Levitt were independent scientists and even earlier when both worked as students under the supervision of Shneior Lifson (1914-2001). Martin Karplus also conducted some of his research during a sabbatical year he spent working with the Lifson research group. It was a happy coincidence that the Nobel Prize committee recognized this group effort very close to what would have been Shneior Lifson's 100th birthday.

One of the most impressive achievements of these Nobel laureates' work is the molecular dynamics simulations of biological processes, such as enzymatic reactions, electron transfer reactions and ion transport in proteins. These simulations provide a computerized description of the actual events that occur in nature. One of the earliest and most significant examples of this strategy is the deciphering of the precise molecular events that occur during the process of vision. Arieh Warshel was the key researcher who described the role played by the protein Rhodopsin, which is the biological pigment in retina cells.

Ehud Keinan
Professor of Chemistry at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, President of the Israel Chemical Society, Editor-in-Chief of the Israel Journal of Chemistry and Chairman of the Advisory Council, High School Chemistry Education, Ministry of Education.

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The International Year of Light 2015, Nobel Prize 2013, Computational Chemistry, Rhodopsin