Two scientists honored with Nobel Prize for tool for building molecules

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Two scientists won the Nobel Prize for their work in developing a tool that helps build molecules.

Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan created “an ingenious tool for building molecules” that is cheaper, more efficient, produces less hazardous waste and is safer, The Associated Press reported

MacMillan told the AP he was “stunned” when he found out he won the Nobel Prize for chemistry Wednesday.

“I grew up in Scotland, a working class kid. My dad’s a steelworker. My mom was a home help. … I was lucky enough to get a chance to come to America, to do my Ph.D.,” he said.

MacMillan and List’s new method discovered molecules could be made by using small organic molecules, a quicker and easier task than using complicated enzymes or metal catalysts like scientists were doing. 

Their method is as “simple as it is ingenious,” Johan Åqvist, chair of the Nobel panel, said. 

“It’s already benefiting humankind greatly,” Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, a member of the Nobel panel, said. Their method is already in use for creating medicines.

The environmentally friendlier way of creating molecules follows three scientists winning the Nobel Prize in physics for work that helps understand climate change.

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