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Why do we care about scientists' Nobel efforts?
Hello everyone, Trace here for DNews.
When someone wins the Nobel prize, everyone instantly knows they're kind of a big deal.
Winners not only get a shiny medal but 8 million Swedish Krona, and of course they're respected and revered.
But it's far from the only prize recognizing contributions to the advancement of humanity.
So why is the Nobel prize held in such high esteem?
Maybe it's because of the prize's past.
The Nobel prize has existed for over 100 years and has been given to some of the most recognizable names in history,
like Albert Einstein -- the relativity guy, Ivan Pavlov -- the dog guy,
and Werner Heisenberg -- no, not the meth guy.
It was established by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, who made a considerable fortune off his invention of dynamite.
In 1895, he secretly drafted his will to set aside the bulk of his estate for prizes in 5 different fields: physics, chemistry, physiology/medicine, literature, and peace.
Economics was added later by Sweden's central bank, though technically it's not a Nobel Prize,
it's just named in honor of Alfred Nobel.
Nobel passed away in 1896 and in 1901, the first prizes were handed out.
At first, the press was only interested in the peace and literature awards, as the sciences
were thought to be a bit too niche for the general public.
But when Marie Curie and her husband were awarded the 1903 prize in physics, along with Henri Becquerel,
their story captured the public’s imagination.
The idea of the poor Curie's scraping by in a laboratory while they revolutionized our understanding of atoms
made for great headlines.
They became celebrities, and the scientific Nobel prizes started getting recognition.
Now the Nobel prize has become a shorthand for greatness, though the awards are not always given out controversy free.
Part of the problem is Alfred Nobel stipulated only 3 people could share the award and the cash prize that comes with it.
The cutting edge of science today requires a lot of collaboration, and sometimes people who do valuable research are left out.
Other times they're straight up snubbed, like Joycelyn Bell Burnell.
She was the first person to observe radio pulsars, but the 1974 prize in physics was
given to her doctoral thesis advisor.
Talk about a No-Bell prize.
It's important to remember the winners are selected by committees and so, they can be fallible.
Their members are appointed by the Royal Swedish Academy or the medical university Karolinska Institutet.
Except for the peace prize committee; Alfred Nobel stipulated that they have to be Norwegian
for... some reason.
Anyway, the committees invite thousands of people respected in their respective fields
to nominate winners and narrow it down from there.
When it comes time to announce the winners, they don't always make the most perfect or most obvious picks.
Usually they do select scientists who have made lasting impacts in their field, like Peter Higgs.
Higgs had to wait almost 50 years for his prize, because he proposed the Higgs boson's existence in 1964,
but it wasn't confirmed until 2012.
In 2013, the Nobel committee recognized that he made this massive contribution (pun intended)to particle physics.
Because of the delay between a scientist's work and its visible influence, the Nobel
Prize has become something of a career award.
That doesn't mean Nobel laureates are resting on their laurels and calling it a day once they’ve won though.
Four scientists have won the nobel prize twice, including the aforementioned Marie Curie.
She's not only the first woman to win it, she remains the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different scientific categories.
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Higgs' proposed boson took so long to find because we had to build the most powerful
atom smasher ever to look for it.
I actually visited; you can go see that video right here.
Do you guys keep track of the Nobel prizes?
Do you care?
Are there any that blew your mind?
Let us know in the comments, make sure you come back every day for more DNews
and thanks for watching!
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How To Win A Nobel Prize

23910 Folder Collection
Anita Lin published on December 23, 2016    Anita Lin translated    Steven reviewed
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