Monday, October 13, 2008

Where Have Our Nobel Physics Prizes Gone?

This article examines the recent drought of Physics Nobel prizes for UK physicists.

But you don't need a PhD in theoretical physics to appreciate one thing about this year's physics Nobel: it didn't go to the UK. In the ast three decades only one UK citizen has been awarded the Nobel Prize for physics: Tony Leggett in 2003. It's a conspicuous mismatch next to the 20 prizes accrued by UK physicists during the previous seven decades, and compares against six Nobels in chemistry and 11 in medicine picked up during the same period.

Meanwhile, Germany (population one third greater) has won ten, France (same population) four and the US (five times greater) a whopping 45 physics Nobels since 1978. Should we be concerned?

Since the fruit of the labor, in this case the Nobel Prize, tends to be awarded many years after the discovery, one also tends to wonder if the current funding issues in the US may result in the same drought in Nobel prizes in physics in the next decade or so. Has the damage been done?


No comments: