Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 30th 2013 Contents A42
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, December 30, 2013
The President of the Royal Society says the system
of selecting Nobel Prize winners should not be
changed, amid pressure from some who want
Sir Paul Nurse said the prize should continue to
reward select individuals, not teams or organisations.
His comments come at a time when some say that
Cern should have been included in this year s physics
Thousands of researchers at the Large Hadron
Collider had been involved in the discovery of the
Higgs in 2012.
"There are often big teams involved, but recognising
individuals does have an impact that I m afraid recog-
nising groups or individuals does not," he told BBC
Earlier this month, Profs Peter Higgs and Francois
Englert received their Nobel Prizes from the King of
Sweden at a ceremony full of pomp and ceremony.
Yet there were four others who contributed signif-
icantly toward a theory to explain how elementary
particles came to have mass. The theory has come
to be known as the Higgs mechanism.
In April 2013, one of them, Prof Carl Hagen, told
BBC News that, when the discovery was announced
at Cern, Peter Higgs had been "treated like a rock
star" by fellow scientists "while the rest of us were
Prof Hagen commented well before the winners
of this year s Nobel Prize for physics were announced
that he did not mind if he did not win the award.
"But by awarding it to some sub-set you detract
from the fact that we all contributed in some very
important way to this discovery," he said.
Some have argued that the system of awarding
Nobel Prizes should be changed, even though it is
a statute of the Nobel Foundation that the prize
should be given to no more than three individuals.
The science prizes have not been given to an organ-
isation. Some had argued that this too should be
reconsidered in the light of the fact that thousands
of scientists at the Large Hadron Collider, which is
operated by Cern in Geneva, had helped to discover
the Higgs particle, which was the trigger for the
physics prize being awarded to Peter Higgs and Fran-
"I think it is time they changed the model," he
told BBC News.
"When the Nobel Prize was set up by Alfred Nobel
113 years ago, science was done very differently. It
was done mostly by individuals, there was very little
international collaboration and it was done very
"But it has radically changed. A lot of cutting-
edge science, a lot of work on the most important
problems in science is a team effort. It is done by
large interdisciplinary teams."
Prof Sir Paul Nurse, a Nobel Prize winner himself,
agrees that Dr Jogalekar s argument "makes sense."
But there is a "but."
"When you are on the platform and you are shaking
hands with the King of Sweden and the cameras are
all on you, you would not be able to recognise Cern.
If there were 20 of you, it would lose the kudos of
the one, two or three people that are actually there,"
according to Prof Nurse.
Prof Sir John Walker won his Nobel Prize in 1997
agrees. He says it is individual creativity that drives
scientific discovery and inspires others.
"I was surrounded by Nobel Laureates in Cam-
bridge. One in particular influenced me and that was
Frederick Sanger. I went and discussed (my ideas)
with Sanger and he said why didn t you get on with
the next 35 years," he explained.
The largest concentration of Nobel prizes in the
UK is at Cambridge---with more than 50 winners of
the three science prizes. It is for this reason that
many high technology companies base themselves
in the area, according to Laurent Jespers of the multi-
national drug company GSK.
"There are about 1,400 technology companies in
Cambridge," he says.
"If you put that into context, approximately 50
years ago, there were only 39 tech companies. So it
is a massive expansion in tech companies that have
attracted large pharma and large computer companies,
as well as small companies. (BBC)
Nobel prize should only
be for 'best of the best'
Peter Higgs, left, received his Nobel Prize from the King of Sweden this month.
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