Thursday, October 01, 2009

Nobel Prize Needs to be Overhaul?

There are news reports everywhere about an open letter to the Nobel board of directors to make changes to the Nobel Prize selection and categories.

The Nobel Prizes need an overhaul, according to a panel of scientists assembled by New Scientist magazine. In an open letter to the Nobel Foundation published today, the scientists say that the prizes, scheduled to be awarded next week, don’t sufficiently reflect today’s science. Too many important areas of research are left out of the categories that Alfred Nobel specified in his 1896 will, they say. They ask the foundation to establish two new prizes, one for the Global Environment and one for Public Health advances, and for both they suggest allowing organizations to be eligible, as they are for the Peace prize.

The first obvious restriction on what the Nobel Prize administrators can do is dictated by Alfred Nobel's will that endows such prizes. While they certainly have tinkered with it before (adding the Economic prize, which in my opinion, is a rather dubious move), they certainly can't do whatever they please. One also runs the risk of diluting the prestige of such prize (re: Economics) and what Nobel originally intended it to be.

For me, I'd rather see them expand the maximum number of winners in each category. There have been way too many deserving people left out when a particular area is being cited and only 3 people at most can be awarded the prize.


No comments: