|Arieh Warshel addresses a news conference on Monday. (Yonhap News)|
Arieh Warshel, co-winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry, hailed the power of computing in revolutionizing science and opening a new horizon for human knowledge.
“When I first started using computer simulations (during the 1960s), there was no such computer program so I to design one,” Arieh Warshel, professor of chemistry at University of Southern California, said in a news conference in Seoul on Monday.
Warshel is often referred as the “man who took chemistry into cyberspace” as he laid the foundation for programs that make it possible to map the mysterious ways of chemistry by using computers, and has revolutionized research in areas from drugs to solar energy.
The Nobel laureate noted that the ability to model chemical reactions has grown as computers have become more powerful.
“The field of computational modeling has revolutionized how we design new medicines,” he said.
But he admitted that until the 1970s, without personal computers and advanced programs it would take days or months to analyze just a simple chemical test, and many were still skeptical about using computers for chemistry experiments back then.
“But I kept doing it, because I knew that chemical structure is not possible to understand without computer simulations,” he said.
He is one of the three 2013 Nobel laureates for chemistry for their work on the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.
Warshel came to Seoul on his first overseas trip after being awarded the prize this month to attend the Molecular Frontiers Symposium hosted by Korea University.
He is to speak with Korean students and also give a special lecture on “Multiscale Modeling of Complex Biological Systems” on Tuesday.
Warshel was born in 1940 in a kibbutz, a collective community traditionally based on agriculture in Israel. He later served in the Israeli Army before earning his PhD degree in chemical physics at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
The 72-year-old scientist said on Monday that he never thought of becoming a scientist, nor a Nobel laureate while studying chemistry.
“I‘ve been just doing what I love and what I do best and luckily it was interesting subject,” he said.
When asked to give advice to young students who dream of becoming a scientist he said: “You have to keep doing what you do, and enjoy it.”
“You also need to love science,” he added.
By Oh Kyu-wook (email@example.com)