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Nobel for Modeling Chemistry

A trio of researchers has won this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on modeling complex chemical systems, according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Or, as New Scientist's headline puts it, the group won for "making chemistry less messy."

"In the 1970s, Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt, and Arieh Warshel laid the foundation for the powerful programs that are used to understand and predict chemical processes," the academy says in a statement. "Computer models mirroring real life have become crucial for most advances made in chemistry today."

These simulations, the New York Times adds, combine classical physics and quantum mechanics and thus allow for closer study of chemical reactions like those that take place in photosynthesis and those that take place between enzymes and drugs.

"What we developed was a way [for] a computer to take the structure of a protein and … eventually understand how exactly it does what it does," the University of Southern California's Warshel said during the prize announcement, according to the New Scientist. "You can use it to design drugs, or in my case, to satisfy your curiosity."

Washel, Stanford University School of Medicine's Levitt, and Karplus from Université de Strasbourg and Harvard University will split the $1.2 million prize.

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