Nobel Prize celebrations and scandals

Article published on Dec. 11, 2008
community published
Article published on Dec. 11, 2008
The glamour is still present at the Nobel Prize celebrations in Stockholm, in fact it may have overtaken the science and culture. Unfortunately, prize winner Nambu could not attend to receive his prize in person from the king of Sweden.
Now, the prize is paid in Swedish krona which means that with the failing currency the prize money has become much lower as they change it back into dollars, euro and yen. Ten million krona are not what they used to be...

Otherwise, most commentators note that the party in the Stockholm city hall was well done with "love" as the theme for the celebrations. Swedish television showed archive pictures of the dresses of queen Silvia the last years.

The importance of the Nobel prize for literature has increased as the focal point for the celebrations. Winning authors may not have been exceptional, but with diminshing depth of the reporting about the science prizes (as they are unfortunately considered too complicated) literature has become more important in giving the yearly celebrations a meaning.

Swedish radio Johan Bergendorff reported, together with Linda AP Larsson and Sören Granath on some perceived irregularities about the Nobel prizes.

First the sponsorship of Honeywell, and their involvement in the production of components to atom bombs. Prize donator Alfred Nobel made much of his fortune on selling dynamite and cannons, and seems strange that one of Honeywell's business activities should taint the entire prize.

Second there were reports that the three Nobel prize committees for the science prizes had received free flying tickets, hotels and dinners by the Japanese and Chinese governments in order for the committees to explain on site how they award a prize.

There was also criticism for the sponsor AstraZeneca having a board member involved in the medical committee deciding the winners. AstraZeneca stands to gain much money on the prized vaccines- but rightly so, as this research has been important. There is a difficult line of competences being drawn in many prizes, and the winning prizes can also be involved in applications ready for the markets.

Bitter evening for the Italian physicist Nicola Cabibbo that was not allowed to share the prize, with Kobayashi and Maskawa. The CKM-matrix is an acronym for Cabibbo, Kobayashi and Maskawa. A telling remark on how much more difficult it is to isolate a single genius inventing something new in today's science.

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