For the love of science / Columns / The Foreigner

For the love of science. Another October rolls around and we will be going through another week of headlines about Nobel Prize winners. Achievements are recognised in chemistry, literature, physics, physiology/medicine, and the only one announced and awarded in Norway: peace. Winners receive a medal, a diploma, cash, and international recognition for life. Since 1969, an economics prize in memory of Alfred Nobel has also been awarded. Many other disciplines have awards that are equated to a Nobel Prize, such as the Fields Medal for mathematicians.

nobelpeaceprize, alfrednobel, nobelprizenorway



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For the love of science

Published on Saturday, 6th October, 2012 at 11:13 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.
Last Updated on 19th October 2012 at 09:11.

Another October rolls around and we will be going through another week of headlines about Nobel Prize winners.

Hug a scientist for Nobel Prize week
Hug a scientist for Nobel Prize week
Photo: Ilan Kelman


Achievements are recognised in chemistry, literature, physics, physiology/medicine, and the only one announced and awarded in Norway: peace. Winners receive a medal, a diploma, cash, and international recognition for life.

Since 1969, an economics prize in memory of Alfred Nobel has also been awarded. Many other disciplines have awards that are equated to a Nobel Prize, such as the Fields Medal for mathematicians.

The Nobel Prizes are welcome for bringing attention to those who advance knowledge and seek a better humanity. We live in an era where you can become an international superstar by singing (sort of) "baby, baby, baby" or by pummelling your opponent to unconsciousness as part of a "sport" in a boxing ring.

Toil away for decades in the lab seeking a cure for cancer and you might earn 1% of what someone else earns for swinging a bat at a ball. What if you risk your life to convince thugs-cum-generals in malaria-infested conflict zones to stop killing children? You gain nowhere as much support as you would by taking off your clothes on the Hollywood screen.

The Nobel Prizes have their controversies, as with all human endeavours. See how Einstein and Gandhi were treated. Terrorists have won the Peace Prize. There are certainly Old Boys Networks and cultural biases at play. Some of the chemistry and physics awards mystified even the winners.

These concerns cannot be dismissed. Nor should they tarnish the Prizes' support for impressive initiatives and achievements in science, literature, and peace in a society overly dominated by superficial spectator-ism.

More importantly, the Prizes need to be seen as representing their subjects more widely. Think of them as shedding light, not just on the individual successes, but also on career choices that are rarely venerated.

Read a book from an author whom you had not before known to celebrate the Nobel Prizes. Volunteer for or donate to an organisation committed to peace.

In a selfish plug from me, then hug your nearest scientist nobly.

Dr. Ilan Kelman is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO).



Published on Saturday, 6th October, 2012 at 11:13 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.
Last updated on 19th October 2012 at 09:11.

This post has the following tags: nobelpeaceprize, alfrednobel, nobelprizenorway.





  
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