Image: Anne MacNamara
"The history of modern science might be written without going outside the names of the Nobels."
The Nobel Prize earned universal prestige a mere five years after its inception. With the 102nd Nobel awards this month, the Nobel Foundation continues to lavish acclaim among a thin upper crust of innovators in the life sciences. But the tradition of the science community's grumbling at the Foundation for its omissions will no doubt proceed unabated in the wake of this year's announcements.
"I think the Nobel has become an exaggerated symbol of scientific excellence. They are very restricted by numbers and fields," says Harriet Zuckerman, author of Scientific Elite, the classic look at the Nobel Prize, its winners, and the well-defined stratification it has caused in 20th-century science.2
THE QUEST FOR A NOBEL The Nobel statutes call for just three prizes to...