When you get up at a specific time every day, it can be tough to sleep in on the weekend. Your internal “body clock” might wake you at the exact same time that you usually wake up for work or school. If you have ever flown overseas, crossing multiple time zones, you may have experienced another side effect of the “body clock” concept— jet lag. Thanks to their exploration of the human internal body clock and its workings, a trio of scientists claimed the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology! Find out more about their discovery.
The study of internal biological “clocks” is known as chronobiology. Three scientists from the United States decided to pioneer in this field, investigating how and why the internal body clock concept works. How do circadian cycles affect health? How are people’s sleep patterns influenced?
Michael Rosbash, Michael Young, and Jeffrey Hall worked tirelessly to reveal the mechanics behind the human body clock. In the mid-1980’s, they found a gene that regulated bio-rhythms in fruit flies. Over the years, their research expanded, showing more and more of the entire system. According to Michael Young, “Just like puzzle pieces, the genes fell out and the way they work together provided this beautiful mechanism that we now appreciate.”
Thanks to modern scientific tools, the three researchers went down to the molecular level, exploring how animals, plants, and humans can actually anticipate day or night and control their biological responses accordingly.
As a result of their unfolding research, the three scientists received the Nobel Prize. They were shocked and thrilled, of course because of the great honour and in part because of the size of the prize— about $1.1 million in U.S. currency.
The scientists’ discovery is still at the ground level. They have unraveled the basics of the molecular mechanics for body clocks, but the practical applications of the discovery are yet to come. With this new understanding of how circadian rhythms and cycles work, scientists may be able to find new ways to help people with insomnia and other sleep issues. They may be able to figure out how to minimise the effects of jet lag. In addition, researchers hope to discover how wilfully ignoring the body clock may affect a person’s health in the long-term.
Science and chemistry are everywhere, throughout your body and in the world around you. Are you curious about how some part of the world works? Keep studying with your Singapore chemistry tutor and pursuing your JC chemistry tuition, and you just might be able to find out those answers someday. Your chemistry tutor in Singapore isn’t just teaching you to pass the A level or O level classes; he is also teaching you the basic knowledge and skills you need to unlock the secrets of the physical world. Who knows where your chemistry tuition might take you?
Source: Channel NewsAsia, 2 October