Nobel aftermath – do we need new prizes?


With the chemistry prize going to yet another biochemical topic, and with the second prize (after medicine) this year that involves a nucleic acid template, not everyone is happy with the Nobel comitee’s choice. Mitch at the Chemistry blog actually made a table about how badly chemists were denied. Ashutosh, on the other hand, notes that the structure of the ribosome – a catalyst, after all – is certainly a matter of chemistry.

I am with Ashutosh here – the ribosome research is an amazing piece of chemistry that fully deserves a Nobel prize. Nonetheless I’m not too happy about this choice. There is a whole periodic table to be explored by chemists, and it is simply not right that the CHNO-guys walk away with all the prizes.

Many people call for a makeover of the Nobel prizes. In an open letter a group of researchers called for at least one new prize, not just for the life sciences but also for climatology and the environment.

What do you think? Do we need a new Nobel?

2 Responses to “Nobel aftermath – do we need new prizes?”

  1. Ute Says:

    Non-scientist piping up here. 😉 I guess it all depends on how strictly you interpret good old Nobel’s original will. As far as I can see, it was his general intention to reward the most important benefactors of mankind in any given year. The areas of research he chose, however, was of course limited by his view of the world back then, more than a hundred years ago. Both a limitation to the original areas as well as an inclusion of modern fields of research could therefore easily be justified – or slammed. Depending on the committees point of view…

    My personal opinion? Go for it, include some more. There’s a lot of researchers out there who deserve to be rewarded for their contribution to our quality of life. I suppose if Nobel were still alive, he wouldn’t mind at all. On the contrary.

  2. David Eckensberger Says:

    I disagree with Lars. Even though I also think that the ribosome research is an amazing piece of chemistry, this work doesn’t deserve a Nobel prize. They used X-ray to determine the positions within the ribosome – so it’s mainly a questions of longanimity and after that there was no new idea or method found. Otherwise we have to give a Nobel prize to much more chemists! Well, ok, their research opened up a door for many new drug against cancer and so on, but then, they should have been awarded the Nobel prize in medicine. I myself consider the Nobel prize in chemistry definetly wrong besides the fact that I doubt the significance of their work compared to others. But well, since this day we know what Nobel prizes are good for…. congrats to Mr. Obama vor having a “visoin”! (I only wonder why the guys in the malls talkin all day of a world without atomic waepons didn’t get that prize years ago… maybe there haven’t been enough cameras and TV stations… who Knows 😉 )

    And finally, to answer the question of the topic:
    Yes, I would definetly say that there should be at least a Nobel prize for Life Sciences.

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