October 7, 2013

Nobel Prize Week begins

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2013 was awarded jointly to James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof "for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells."

It's always interesting to look for new trends in laureates. These, however, look traditional: Two Americans and a German.

Key publications run from 1979, 1984, 1990, 1990, 1993, and 1993. My vague impression is that the prizes started to lag more in time to make sure they don't miss all the great stuff done in the 1970s. You could test that using the Nobel Foundation's lists of "key publications."

26 comments:

hardly said...

It also has a lot to do with the fact that you dont know which discovery is important until several years have elapsed. Especially in medicine the lag time is huge. First a study is done, then someone needs to replicate it, then someone finds a use for it, then others get in, then several years later it is recognized as a seminal cornerstone of biology. For instance, see the history of green fluorescent protein from its discovery in 1994 to the nobel in 2008.

Anonymous said...

the two americans seems by their names to be ashkenazi jews...no surprise,here

Anonymous said...

Sudhof's entire career was in the USA though. 100% of his lab's Nobel-worthy work was done in the UT Southwestern.

Anonymous said...

jody,

Can you weigh in here and tell us if this one is a "head scratcher"?

Anonymous said...

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=novel-finding-reading-literary-fiction-improves-empathy&WT.mc_id=SA_Facebook

More traction.

Anonymous said...

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=novel-finding-reading-literary-fiction-improves-empathy&WT.mc_id=SA_Facebook

Neo-highbrow/lowbrow dichotomy.

Moshe said...

The cool thing about the non-bullshit Nobels is how counter Gladwellian they are.

I'm virtually CERTAIN that an exponentially larger crowd would be interested - and far more engaged - in Nobel Week - were the awards handed out to current rockstars who just discovered, say, that being suicidal makes you more likely to score with barely legal chicks (it worked for this guy I read about on the internet, just imagine its applicability!) or that being fat in your teens increased your chances of making it inton space or the like.

In fact, I'd bet there are at least a hundred thousand americans scratching their head over the fact that Gladee hasn't won a Nobel himself. Has ANYONE discovered a larger number of crucial revolutionary social truths than Le Juif Afro?

On the subject, I always get a thrill out of reading about these awesome discoveries that the Nobels are awarded for but I'm also always slightly nervous that this might just be the year that increasing discomfort with the Jewish component is dealt with and all of the Nobels will go to the uncircumsized heathens.

Also, I look forwward with building comedic pleasure to the eventual announcement of the Peace Prize. The literature prize is often just an annnoying exercise in affirmative action but the Peace Prize is delivered by the True Believers and I always love the anticipation of seeing what they'll come up with next.

M

www.exoticjewishhistory.com

Anonymous said...

Question: Is it possible to win Nobel Prize in the same category more than once?

Example: If someone one in the category for Peace, back in 2009, is it possible that he could win the Nobel Prize for Peace again, only this time in 2013?

Double winner for Peace. Helping to make the world more peaceful. That would be an impressive resume booster for Barry.

agnostic said...

If there is a slow-down, that would show up by looking at how the entire histogram of "years of key works" changes with each passing year.

No matter how much time you give it, a time period with little truly going on will never start stacking up examples.

For example, how many musicians whose major songs are from the '90s or 21st century do you think will ever get inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame? Especially if those hits were after '92 or '93? It's been anemic since the '80s, so little chance that "just giving it more time" will change the histogram that much.

Anonymous said...

Two US-born German-Americans and one German-born German-American?

pat said...

The big Nobel story of course is whether Vladimir Putin will win the Peace Prize.

A couple years ago Rush Limbaugh mounted a campaign to get himself nominated for the Peace Prize and he succeeded. He didn't actually win but being just nominated is still pretty good. It's like in the trailers for new Hollywood films. They announce that their star was an Academy Award Winner and that their supporting player was an Academy Award Nominee.

You would think that being just a Nominee rather than a Winner would brand you as a loser - but no. Academy Award Nominees are roughly equivalent to being knighted by the Queen, except that everyone doesn't have to call you - sir.

Andy Warhol got it wrong. In the future everyone will win the Nobel Peace Prize for 15 minutes.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

What we need is a 'hated speech' protection law.

It would protect speech that is hated by the powers-that-be and the politically correct witch-hunters.

Anonymous said...

We should come up with
SAILER AWARDS for various achievements in social science and commentary.

Prize. A year's worth of free subscription to iSteve blog.
Well, it's free already but it would be double-free.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Question: Is it possible to win Nobel Prize in the same category more than once?"

Yes, there is at least one Nobelist for whom this happened:

John Bardeen

SFG said...

I checked Wikipedia--the Americans are, in fact, not members of the tribe.

Germans are good at science too.

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janis_Ian

Red diaper baby.

Simon in London said...

"Rothman, Schekman and Südhof"

Lots of smug Germans out there right now.

Anonymous said...

The two Americans are Jewish, SFG. Wikipedia often lacks racial and ethnic information in its sketchier entries. Jinfo has already updated its list of Jewish Nobel laureates to include the two Americans. You can read the site's justification for doing so in the footnotes.

SFG said...

"The two Americans are Jewish, SFG. Wikipedia often lacks racial and ethnic information in its sketchier entries. Jinfo has already updated its list of Jewish Nobel laureates to include the two Americans. You can read the site's justification for doing so in the footnotes."

Oy, you are correct. I'm beginning to think this is all some German plot to sneak back up in the scientific rankings by convincing Jews to come back.

Anonymous said...

Would a Jewish Christian be counted as a Jew by Jinfo if he or she won a Noble prize?

I suppose when Karl Marx professed atheism and repudiated his father's Christianity he became a Jew again?

goatweed the confused

Anonymous said...

Not sure whether Jewish converts to Christianity would be counted by Jinfo. Half-Jews who were not raised Jewish (e.g. Alexander Grothendieck, Heinrich Hertz, Otto Warburg) are counted, but quarter-Jews are not.

jody said...

"It's always interesting to look for new trends in laureates."

there will be some chinese ones eventually.

"It also has a lot to do with the fact that you dont know which discovery is important until several years have elapsed."

which the nobel committee ignores now sometimes, awarding for things which aren't that important, like the award given to dan shechtman in 2011 for his elucidation of quasicrystals, which have little known use. they are an interesting lab result, changing a very minor understanding in one branch of chemistry, but not much application so far, 30 years after initial publication. meanwhile, stephanie kwolek awaits her chemistry nobel for developing kevlar, a significant material.

in other cases, long after significant importance has been established, the nobel committee ignores work. still no awards for venter for completing the human genome, one of the most significant developments in the history of biology.

in the worst case scenarios, you get screwed, like ray damadian, by far the person most responsible for MRI development. the nobel committee just straight up ignored him and awarded a physics prize to 2 other guys and cut damadian out completely, even though the award allows for up to 3 recipients and they clearly jobbed the main guy.

i strongly suspect peter higgs will not get jobbed on the higgs boson, although a shared award with bose might make sense if bose was still alive. the nobel committee does not award posthumously, so he's out.

funny how higgs' 1964 theoretical results are so important that they have launched billion dollar projects and form the foundation of the standard model, whereas schechtman's 1982 work, which is curious and mildly interesting in a technical way to the chemistry wonk, is basically totally irrelevant to the course of science and technology. yet who has a science nobel.

jody said...

Can you weigh in here and tell us if this one is a "head scratcher"?

i can weigh in here and tell everybody that you're a loser who wastes his time following me around.

jody said...

another one that makes me scratch my head is the 2012 medicine award to john gurdon and shinya yamanaka. no ian wilmut as a 3rd recipient for this award? and yamanaka being awarded a nobel prize for work he did in 2006? that's only 6 years earlier. i thought the nobel committee was supposed to wait decades on this stuff.

only things i can think here are:

1) gurdon cloned an animal first, so wilmut wasn't first so it doesn't count? but it proved to be way, way harder to clone a mammal, which is why it was 35 years between gurdon's work and wilmut's work. that's completely within the realm of established precedent for awarding credit. key work extending current understanding and further improving a nascent field is awarded scientific prizes all the time. which....

2) isn't that exactly what they awarded yamanaka for? gurdon 'already did that' 50 years ago so yamanaka improving cloning tech is not worth a nobel...if you go by the standards which they held ian wilmut to.

wilmut's work lead to successful cloning of many mammals, which was impossible before his breakthrough, so the only thing i can think is that his technical method is not that great, and this is where he is being marked down and excluded. his cloning tech is not going to become the industry standard, won't be the method scientists in this field go to when they want to clone something, so wilmut can't be awarded a joint prize here. but herp derp, wasn't that the exact same situation with william shockley and the first prototype transistor he designed? his colleagues came in and quickly designed a second, better transistor. didn't stop him from getting the physics nobel.

what wilmut got is probably similar to what gero hutter is going to get, a guy in a very similar position. since he was the first person to cure AIDS, but his method, while repeatable, cannot become industry standard due to technical reasons, he probably won't get a medicine nobel. he might get a lasker award or wolf prize though.

Anonymous said...

The Nobel Prize this year was won by Peter Higgs and Francois Englert. Englert is a Jew. Damn, those Jews sure know how to win Nobel prizes! Maybe we need more Jews in this world!

Anonymous said...

i can weigh in here and tell everybody that you're a loser who wastes his time following me around.

And I can weigh in here and tell everybody that you're a BSer who wastes his time BSing.