Nobel Laureate Crossword Puzzle 1981 - 1990

title: "Nobel Laureate Crossword Puzzle 1981 - 1990", outline of crossword puzzle and nobel prize

The 1980’s were dotted with key, history changing events. The Berlin Wall, separating east and west, fell; India’s first female prime minister, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her body guards; the first mobile phone was introduced; The Space Shuttle Challenger was launched from Cape Canaveral and exploded right after takeoff, killing seven astronauts; During the 1980’s the Internet and Personal Computers evolved technologically, and culturally; There was an assassination attempt in Vatican City on Pope John II. He was wounded but survived; In 1981 Lady Diana and Prince Charles were married and the royal wedding was telecast around the globe; President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley and survived the assignation attempt; and Ted Turner started CNN in Atlanta and introduced the world to 24 hour news. In the 1970’s, smallpox was eradicated worldwide, so the 1980’s were the first decade in the known history of humanity that did not have to deal with this viral plague.

Rock and Roll and pop groups like Van Halen, Queen, R.E.M., Diana Ross, and Aerosmith blended with Country Music stars like Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Alabama, and the Oak Ridge Boys populated the radio waves. Other popular music that started in the 1970’s and carried over to the 1980’s included Disco and Motown. Top actors and actresses of the 80’s included Glenn Close, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Eddie Murphy, Meryl Streep, Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster, Denzel Washington, Michael Douglas, Al Pacino, Morgan Freeman, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Jack Nicholson. Many of these names are still making appearances in the 2020’s. Top Gun made its first release in 1986 with star Tom Cruise. Top Gun 2 was released in 2022, again with Tom Cruise as the star.

There were laws and regulations instituted that started the removal of toxic chemicals from the environment. Despite these efforts the seeds for ocean acidification and global warming were planted and started to sprout. The Atlantic northwest cod fisheries were in a sharp decline throughout the 1980’s and finally collapsed in 1993. There were manmade and natural disasters that caused Jamaica to lose over 80% of its coral reefs. The slow collapse of the oyster populations in areas like New York Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay were in sharp decline. Oysters are a keystone species responsible for many fisheries, an oyster bar can stabilize a shoreline and prevent its erosion, and given a single adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day, an oyster bar with millions of oysters is a fantastic natural filtration system. The ozone (O3) layer over Antarctica became a reality and the term, the ozone hole, described yet another environmental disaster.


Nobel Prize


Here you will find 


The Nobel Prize is awarded every year in six disciplines; Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Physiology, Literature, Peace, and Economics. Alfred Nobel, active as an inventor and businessperson, left a will in 1895, to acknowledge "those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind." Scientists can typically spend years or even decades developing their projects that can advance humanity. Once the concept or event has been brought into the public’s view, its impact is evaluated. The announcements of the year’s recipients take place in the fall of each year, with a ceremony held in Sweden typically in early December. The award includes a gold medallion, a diploma, and a significant monetary award. Awards are often correlated with popularity, as many Nobel Awards winners have been known to shape our society, from Watson and Cricks double helix structure of DNA and Marie Curie's work with radioactivity, to Jennifer Anne Soudan and Emmanuelle Charpentier work with CRISPR and Carolyn Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and Barry Sharpless (his 2nd Nobel Prize) for their work with click chemistry. We are working on a series of puzzles that will provide some introductory material on every Nobel Prize awarded from 1901 to 2022. In addition, some key concepts in the Nobel Award in medicine and physics with strong links to various areas of chemistry will also be included. These will range from Watson and Cricks model of DNA to the Bohr model of the atom.

Our first educational puzzle submitted to ChemEd X was developed during the pandemic and focused on infectious diseases (see Using an Abbreviation Puzzle as a Method to Familiarize Students with Infectious Diseases)1. It allows players to learn something about over 150 infectious diseases using a strategic method.

Recently we developed a novel puzzle that allows students to think strategically while familiarizing themselves with the elements and their symbols from the periodic table (see Turning Element Abbreviations into a Strategic Exercise). Read this post for more information about the educational benefits of using puzzles.


This series of puzzles can be completed individually or in groups, and it can be used in a classroom setting or given as homework. And don’t forget, there are always a few parents and other family members that might enjoy the activity. 

Nobel Prizes 1981 - 1990



1. Sec is the 3 letter abbreviation for a less than common amino acid - what is its full name?

6. _______ are bioenzymes that break down fats so they can be absorbed by the intestines.

8. The 1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to three scientists called 'A Magnificent Trio.'  They used molecular beams, in which molecules were moving at supersonic speeds and collided. This provided a more ________ view of reactions, rather than the usual static view of the molecular world.

9. In 1901 Dr. Rontgen discovered x-rays.  In 1914 Dr. von Laue discovered that x-ray diffraction caused by crystals occurs.  The ____  equation (1915) was used to determine crystal structures.

11. A __________ naturally occurs in a living organism.  For example; an enzyme that is involved in the conversion of organic compounds from one structure to another can be a ____.

13. Dr. Barbara McClintock, of the Cold Spring Harbor Lab (NY), won the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her with genetics. She worked with ________and their impact on nearby genes over several generation of plant (corn).

16. Dr. Johann Deisenhofer, Dr. Robert Huber and Dr. Hartmut Michel won the 1988 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their molecular level work outlining how photosynthesis works, converting ______ into energy.

19. Dr. Kenichi Fukui developed a theory that _____orbits that are weakly connected to the nucleus are most likely to be involved in a chemical reaction.

22. Nobel Laureate Dr. Dudley Herschbach developed a gas phase technique called crossed _______ beams. This allowed scientists to study the production of new chemical species produced in the beams.

23. The Zetawatt-Equivalent Ultrashort pulse laser System (aka ZEUS),  emitted an extremely high energy pulse that lasted a few _________.   Femto is 10^-15.  A picosecond is 1,000 femtoseconds; a nanosecond is one million femtoseconds, and a microsecond is one billion femtoseconds.

25. LDL or low-density _______, cholesterol, is called bad- cholesterol.  It is the most common cholesterol in the human body.

29. One of the top songs in the 1980's was "That's What ______ Are For."  The performers included Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder.

31. Professor Hoffmann focused on the electronic structure of unstable molecules, and included work with  _______states in reactions.

34. The 1990 Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to Dr. Elias J. Corey of Harvard University for his work in synthetic ______ chemistry.

36. William Golding won the 1983 Nobel Prize in literature for his novel Lord of the _______, that was published in 1954. It was assigned reading for many middle and high school students.

38. It is considered the most important chemical reaction on earth, and involves the conversion of sunlight into energy.

41. The 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded  Dr. Donald  Cram,  Dr. Jean-Marie Lehn, and Dr. Charles Pedersen,  for the "development and use of molecules with structure-specific interactions of high ____." (

42. The press release in 1984 read: "The Nobel Assembly of Karolinska Institutet has today decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 1984 jointly to;  Niels K. Jerne, Georges J.F. Köhler and César Milstein.   for theories concerning “the specificity in development and control of the immune system” and the discovery of “the principle for production of _____antibodies”.

43. Part of the 1986 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded (1/2 of it) to Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer for the development of scanning _______ microscope (STM).  This gave scientists and engineers the ability to see single atoms on a surface.

44. The 1985 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1985 was awarded to Dr. Michael  Brown and Dr. Joseph Goldstein for their work with ________ metabolism.

45. The transuranium elements ______ (107 protons), Hassium (108 protons), and Meitnerium (109 protons) were synthesized in the 1980s at Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) lab in Germany.

46. Dr. Henry Taube was awarded the 1983 Chemistry Nobel Prize   for his research related to electron-______ reactions, with a focus on metal complexes.

48. The Space Shuttle _________ broke apart a little more than a minute after its take off, over the Atlantic Ocean.  It took place on January 28, 1986. The seven astronauts aboard did not survive the explosion.

49. The book, The Color ______, which became a movie starring Oprah Winfrey, was considered one of the top 3 books of the 1980's.

50. "Sidney Altman, USA and Thomas Cech, USA for their discovery that RNA (________ acid) in living cells is not only a molecule of heredity but also can function as a biocatalyst."   (from

51. In 1981 Dr. Arthur  Schawlow and Dr. Charles Townes won the Nobel Prize for the invention of the laser.  Most light sources are based on spontaneous emission, the laser is based on _______ emission of light

52. Dr. Chandrasekhar's won the 1983 Nobel Prize in physics for his research on white ________ and black holes.



2. Nobel Laureate Dr. Polanyi developed chemiluminescence in molecules as a method to probe reactions in the gas phase, when they were excited and emitted ________ light. .

3. The emission of light (electromagnetic radiation) that happens when a chemical reaction results in the production of energy. Photons (individual packets of light) are emitted  when the excited molecules electrons relax to their ground state.

4. ____________ are bioenzymes that can break down starches into sugar molecules.

5. Dr. Corey was credited with the synthesis of over 100 natural  _______ (medicinal agents that come from living species, from bacterium to trees).

7. The 1984 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for research into the weak force (the four fundamental forces are gravity, weak force,  electromagnetic force, strong nuclear force).  Dr. Carlo Rubbia and Dr. Simon Van der Meer were affilated with CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.  In French, CERN stands Conseil Européen pour la Recherche ________ .

10. An ____second or a ____meter is 10^-18 seconds or meters. ____ is a 1000 times smaller than a femto.

12. This amino acid has an aromatic ring, and is abbreviated (when using one letter abbreviations), with an F.

14. One of the biggest man-made environmental disasters in the history of humanity took place in the mid-1980's.  On April 26th, 1986 in the Ukraine region of the USSR, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion resulted in the wide spread distribution of ______ species across parts of Asia and Europe.

15. ArgAsnAspCysGluGlnGlyHisIleLeuLysMetPheProSerThrTrpVal   is a list of 19 of the 20 common amino acids 3 letter abbreviations. Which amino acid abbreviation is missing?

17. Professor Yuan Lee extended the molecular dynamics work of Dudley Herschbach.  One added feature was the use of a mass ____  to identify the molecular products of the molecular beam reactions.

18. Dr. Carl Sagan, a well regarded astronomer, published the book entitled ______. It complimented  his Public Broadicasting Series (PBS) series on the same topic. It was well received by the general public.

20. In the early 1980's the IBM PC hit the market.  For its time, it was very unique and powerful with a 16-bit 8088 _______ operating at 4.77 MHZ (megahertz).  IBM stands for International Business Machines.

21. The United Nations High Commissioner for  _______ (UNHCR) received the Nobel Peace prize twice, 1954 and 1981.

24. The 1985 Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to Dr. Hauptman and Dr. Karle for the development of equations that used data from x-rays that were past through an ordered _______.  The equations helped scientists solve the structure of the crystal.

26. Amino acids are linked together to form a _______ .  They can increase in size and have a specific structure/geometry and form proteins.

27. _______ are bioenzymes that can break down proteins.

28. The 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Dr. Dudley  Herschbach, Dr. Yuan Lee and Dr. John Polanyi for their work in chemical ______.

30. Before NPR had the Science Friday podcast, Dr. Roald Hoffman had a PBS series entitled "The World of ______" (1988). He followed that with a broadcast entitled "Entertaining Science" which was held at the Cornelia Street Cafe, in Greenwich Village (NYC).

32. Mass spectrometers measure the m/z or mass/______ ratio of an ion.  For example, water has a m/z ratio of 18 with a +1 charge after being ionized in the mass spectrometer.

33. Dr. Kenichi Fukui was a  ______chemist.  He is the first person from a Pacific Eastern Rim nation to win the Nobel Prize in chemistry.

34. Dr. Taube worked with two elements Ruthenium (Ru) and ______(Os). Electrons can move from a atomic orbital (AO) to a pi bond-acceptor molecule (called backbonding).

35. In the 1980's President Jimmy Carter signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act  (ANILCA), which instantly resulted in 43 million acres becoming federally protected.  The National Park System (NPS) gained Glacier Bay, ______, Lake Clark, Gates of Arctic, St. Elias, Katmai, Kenai Fjords, and Kobuk Valley national parks.

37. The 1984 Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded Professor  Bruce Merrifield of the Rockefeller University (NY). He developed a simple technology for the synthesis of ______ and proteins.

39. Dr. Aaron Klug won the 1982 Nobel Prize in chemistry for “ development of crystallographic electron microscopy and his structural elucidation of biologically important _______ acid-protein complexes.” (from

40. Roald _______, the 1981 chemistry Nobel Prize winner, was a child in Poland when the Nazi's invaded.  He hid in an attic for 18 months with his mother. He survived WW2 but many of his family members died in concentration camps.  He moved to the U.S. in 1949 and was a Professor at Cornell when he won the Prize.

44. The Solar Maximum Mission (aka, “SolarMax”) was deployed into space by a Delta rocket in February of 1980.  It was launched from Cape _________ (Kennedy Space Center). Its mission focused on solar measurements during the peak of the solar cycle.

47. Photosynthetic processes in ______ are simpler than in algae and plants.


Provide students with blank puzzle and clues. Note there are two versions available. Both versions include clues but the more advanced version does not include a word bank.