The commentary by Robert L. Brent in the Feb. 3, 1992, issue of The Scientist [page 12] makes some legitimate points. Nevertheless, I am afraid that its principal effect will be to discourage young scientists.

I cannot agree with the implications of Brent's remarks that individuals don't count and that awards are meaningless or, worse, the symptom of a corrupt, politicized scientific system.

After more than 40 years of scientific research I still believe that recognition does come rather automatically and is based primarily on the quality of the scientific work, not on political maneuvering.

I have been lucky enough to receive several awards. They don't include a Nobel Prize, but I worked side by side with someone who did win one. In his case, as in mine, the awards were not sought--each was a genuine surprise. In fact, I often remark to my students that science is one of...

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