The 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry will be shared between Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz and Ada E. Yonath for discovering how ribosomes function at the atomic level.

Ribosomes are molecular machines composed of RNA and protein that perform the critical function of translating messenger RNA (mRNA) into protein. In other words, they transform the genetic code from a static list of instructions into dynamic entities that constitute life. As the Nobel Foundation’s announcement eloquently put it, “they build and control life at the chemical level.”

In a tour-de-force of atomic chemistry, Ramakrishnan, Steitz, and Yonath used X-ray crystallography to locate each More >