Илья́ Ильи́ч Ме́чников // Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov (15 May 1845 – 15 July 1916)
Russian (Ukrainian) biologist, zoologist and protozoologist, best known for his pioneering research into the immune system. … In 1882 he resigned his position at Odessa University and set up a private laboratory at Messina to study comparative embryology, where he discovered phagocytosis after experimenting on the larvae of starfish. He realized that the process of digestion in micro-organisms was essentially the same as that carried out by white blood cells.
His theory, that certain white blood cells could engulf and destroy harmful bodies such as bacteria, met with skepticism from leading specialists including Louis Pasteur, Behring and others. Nonetheless, in 1888 Pasteur gave him an appointment at the Pasteur Institute, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Mechnikov received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1908, shared with Paul Ehrlich, for his work in immunology. He is also credited by some sources with coining the term gerontology in 1903, for the emerging study of aging and longevity.
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2016 – David J. Thouless, F. Duncan M. Haldane, J. Michael Kosterlitz – “for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”
They revealed the secrets of exotic matter
This year’s Laureates opened the door on an unknown
world where matter can assume strange states. They have used advanced
mathematical methods to study unusual phases, or states, of matter, such
as superconductors, superfluids or thin magnetic films. Thanks to their
pioneering work, the hunt is now on for new and exotic phases of
matter. Many people are hopeful of future applications in both materials
science and electronics.
The three Laureates’ use of topological concepts in physics was
decisive for their discoveries. Topology is a branch of mathematics that
describes properties that only change step-wise. Using topology as a
tool, they were able to astound the experts. In the early 1970s, Michael Kosterlitz and David Thouless
overturned the then current theory that superconductivity or
suprafluidity could not occur in thin layers. They demonstrated that
superconductivity could occur at low temperatures and also explained the
mechanism, phase transition, that makes superconductivity disappear at
In the 1980s, Thouless was able to explain a previous experiment
with very thin electrically conducting layers in which conductance was
precisely measured as integer steps. He showed that these integers were
topological in their nature. At around the same time, Duncan Haldane
discovered how topological concepts can be used to understand the
properties of chains of small magnets found in some materials.
We now know of many topological phases, not only in thin layers and
threads, but also in ordinary three-dimensional materials. Over the last
decade, this area has boosted frontline research in condensed matter
physics, not least because of the hope that topological materials could
be used in new generations of electronics and superconductors, or in
future quantum computers. Current research is revealing the secrets of
matter in the exotic worlds discovered by this year’s Nobel Laureates.