Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 7th 2014 Contents A20
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, October 7, 2014
STOCKHOLM---A US-British scientist who
grew up in the South Bronx and a hus-
band-and-wife research team from Norway
yesterday won the Nobel Prize in medicine
for discovering the brain s navigation sys-
tem---the inner GPS that helps us find our
way in the world---revelations that could
lead to advances in diagnosing Alzheimer s.
The research by John O Keefe, May-Britt
Moser and Edvard Moser represents a "par-
adigm shift" in neuroscience that could help
researchers understand the sometimes severe
spatial memory loss associated with
Alzheimer s disease, the Nobel Assembly
"This year s Nobel Laureates have dis-
covered a positioning system, an inner GPS
in the brain, that makes it possible to orient
ourselves in space," the assembly said.
O Keefe, 74, a dual US and British citizen
at the University College London, discovered
the first component of this system in 1971
when he found that a certain type of nerve
cell was always activated when a rat was at
a certain place in a room. He demonstrated
that these place cells were building up a
map of the environment, not just registering
Decades later, in 2005, May-Britt and
Edvard Moser, married neuroscientists at
the Norwegian University of Science and
Technology in Trondheim, identified another
type of nerve cell---the grid cell---that gen-
erates a coordinate system for precise posi-
tioning and path-finding, the assembly said.
Yesterday s award was the fourth time
that a married couple has shared a Nobel
Prize and the second time in the medicine
"This is crazy," an excited May-Britt
Moser, 51, told the Associated Press by tele-
phone from Trondheim.
"This is such a great honour for all of us
and all the people who have worked with
us and supported us. We are going to con-
tinue and hopefully do even more ground-
breaking work in the future."
Her 52-year-old husband didn t imme-
diately find out about the prize because he
was flying yesterday to the Max Planck
Institute in Munich to demonstrate their
research. Edvard Moser only discovered he
had won after he landed in Munich, turned
on his cellphone and saw a flood of e-mails,
text messages and missed calls.
"It s a great moment. I am grateful to
everyone who has contributed to this,
including everyone who is and has been in
our lab," he said later.
"And it shows that it is possible to create
good science, if you do it in the right way.
I think it s a big stimulation for science both
at home in Norway and throughout the
The Nobel Assembly said the discoveries
marked a shift in scientists understanding
of how specialised cells work together to
perform complex cognitive tasks. They have
also opened new avenues for understanding
cognitive functions such as memory, think-
ing and planning.
O Keefe told the AP he was working at
home when his office called to say "there s
a gentleman from Sweden who wants to
have a word with you."
"Before I called him, I took a long, deep
breath," O Keefe said, speaking at his office
at University College London.
O Keefe was born in Harlem and raised
in the South Bronx.
"If you can survive the South Bronx, you
can survive anything," he said.
He moved to England for postdoctoral
training and found the place cells in a part
of the brain called the hippocampus. The
Mosers, meanwhile, identified the grid cells
in a nearby section of the brain known as
the entorhinal cortex.
All three Nobel laureates won Columbia
University s Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize last
year for their discoveries. They will split
the Nobel prize money of 8 million Swedish
kronor (about US$1.1 million), with half to
O Keefe and the other half to the Mosers.
The Nobel awards in physics, chemistry,
literature and peace will be announced later
this week and the economics prize will be
announced next Monday. Created by
Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, the Nobel
Prizes were first awarded in 1901. The win-
ners collect their awards on December 10,
the anniversary of Nobel s death in 1896.
WASHINGTON---The top US court cleared
the way yesterday for an immediate expansion
of same-sex marriage in the United States by
unexpectedly and tersely turning away appeals
from five states seeking to prohibit gay and
lesbian unions. The Supreme Court s order
effectively makes gay marriage now legal in
more than half of American states.
While the ruling stops short of resolving for
now the question of same-sex marriage nation-
wide, it is a major victory for advocates of gay
marriage. It continues a dramatic turnaround
on the issue across the United States in recent
years, with gay marriage generally winning
approval in court cases, state legislatures and
public opinion polls.
Lower courts have overturned one same-sex
marriage ban after another following the high
court s landmark decision in June 2013 that
partially struck down a Clinton-era federal law
that defined marriage as between a man and
Gay marriage proponents have since enjoyed
a stunning string of legal victories, winning
more than 20 court decisions around the US.
Cases were filed in the 31 states that prohibit
Gay marriage has been a volatile social issue
in America over the past decade, one that has
veered from helping Republicans turn out their
conservative base during George W Bush s re-
election campaign in 2004 to one that now
vexes the party. Public support has swung rap-
idly in favour of same-sex marriage in recent
years. That s a big shift since the Massachusetts
Supreme Court declared the state s marriage
ban unconstitutional in 2003, prompting states
around the US to pass marriage bans.
The justices yesterday did not comment in
rejecting appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma,
Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. No other state
cases were pending with the high court.
The court s order immediately ends delays
on same-sex marriage in those four states.
Couples in six other states---Colorado, Kansas,
North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia
and Wyoming---should be able to get married
soon. Those states would be bound by the same
appellate rulings that were put on hold pending
the Supreme Court s review.
The order effectively means gay marriage is
legal now in 30 out of 50 states and the Wash-
ington capital district.
Experts and advocates on both sides of the
issue believed the justices would step in and
decide gay marriage cases this term. The justices
have an obligation to settle an issue of such
national importance, not abdicate that respon-
sibility to lower court judges, the advocates
said. Opting out of hearing the cases leaves
those lower court rulings in place.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry,
called on the high court to "finish the job."
Wolfson said the court s "delay in affirming
the freedom to marry nationwide prolongs the
patchwork of state-to-state discrimination and
the harms and indignity that the denial of mar-
riage still inflicts on too many couples in too
Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy
Center, an opponent of same-sex marriage,
also chastised the court for its "irresponsible
denial of review in the cases." Whelan said it
is hard to see how the court could eventually
rule in favour of same-sex marriage bans after
having allowed so many court decisions striking
down those bans to remain in effect. (AP)
US court hands
huge win to gay
NAIROBI---Kenyan President Uhuru
Kenyatta yesterday told the nation in an
address before parliament that he would
temporarily step down as president while
attending a hearing at the International
Criminal Court this week.
Kenyatta faces crimes against humanity
charges at The Hague, Netherlands-based
court for allegations that he helped instigate
violence that followed Kenya s December
2007 presidential election, when more
than 1,000 people were killed.
The court ordered him to attend a status
hearing tomorrow, denying his request
that he participate by video.
The hearing would be the first time a
sitting president attends an ICC session,
a mark Kenyatta s political supporters have
urged him to avoid.
Seeking to bypass that notation in his-
tory, the president yesterday said he would
invoke a never-before-used article of the
constitution that will see deputy President
William Ruto temporarily become presi-
The temporary abdication is Kenyatta s
way of fulfilling the court order, but also
insisting that he be a private citizen during
In his speech, Kenyatta maintained his
innocence, noted that the ICC prosecutor
has been admonished by the court for her
faltering case and recalled that the African
Union has passed a resolution granting
immunity from international tribunals for
Kenyatta also said Africa s "century of
exploitation and domination" by the West
continues. Critics of the ICC note that it
has only prosecuted Africans.
Lastly, Kenyatta said the accusations he
faces occurred before he became presi-
"It is for this reason that I chose not to
put the sovereignty of more than 40 million
Kenyans on trial since their democratic
will should never be subject to another
jurisdiction," Kenyatta said.
"Therefore let it not be said that I am
attending the status conference as the
president of Kenya," he continued.
"Nothing in my position or my deeds
as president warrants my being in court."
George Kegoro, executive director of the
Kenyan chapter of the International Com-
mission of Jurists, lauded the president
for following the rule of law. If Kenyatta
had refused to go, he risked an international
arrest warrant and international condem-
nation or economic sanctions against
"If he had refused it would have
destroyed our economy. The economy
would not have recovered during his
tenure," said Gitobu Imanyara, a lawyer
and former legislator.
The case against Kenyatta appears to be
collapsing as witnesses refuse to testify
or recant their statements. (AP)
Kenya president steps down for court hearing
Edvard Moser and his wife May-Britt
Moser pose for this photo in a laboratory in
Trondheim in 2008. They yesterday won
the 2014 Nobel Prize for Medicine together
with US-British scientist John O'Keefe
(inset). AP PHOTOS
3 win medicine Nobel
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