Thursday, October 9, 2008

Noble prize 06-07-08

Still remember the day quite well…though not the exact date…it was back in the first week of October 2006. I was doing my fav job of the day…reading TOI…and on the Trends page I came across an article on RNAi…mentioning the phenomenon, which fetched A. Fire and C. Mello, a noble in medicine that year. The phenomenon was mentioned quite in brief in layman’s tongue…! After reading the article my curiosity was at its peak and I went ahead reading voraciously about it…how fascinated and amazed I was then!!!
From that particular year I started waiting for the noble prize announcements quite eagerly…!
Had heard about the noble prize for the first time I don’t even remember when…it is quite early in your childhood that you come across the noble prize thing…
But the same curiosity the same fascination and the same amazement did not continue to happen for the following years i.e 2007 and 2008(last yr and this year resp.)
If I am not wrong the noble prize in medicine for the year 2007 was given to the founders of gene knockdown technology…wherein you can knockoff a particular gene and look at its function…!
No doubt it was a great discovery that had revolutionized way research took place in terms of deciphering gene function!!!
But then what disturbed me most was that the discovery was quite old…I mean in today’s context this p’cular tool has been exploited for quite some years now…! I mean its quite surprising that RNAi which provided one of the methods for gene knockdown, which was new…fetched noble prize even before gene knockdown thing itself…!
Even this year when the noble prize in medicine and chemistry were declared…the same thought struck…
Noble prize in medicine went for the discovery of HIV replication cycle and
Noble prize in chemistry went for discovery and use of GFP
Both again were great discoveries…but then both of them are well exploited and established for years now!!!
What I intend to convey here is that …the noble prize that are announced every year should go in for recent discoveries…this in no way means that the discovery made in the past decades were not significant…but then I think there shouldn't be a lag between a great discovery and its corresponding noble…!
I think that level of foresight…should definitely be there which recognizes the implications of significant discoveries and its effect in a short term…!
According to me 15-20 years of time…its pretty long for recognizing a noble!!!


  1. i tend to disagree....nobel goes to those achievements which revolutionize their domain of science..... this doesnt happen over night/.....some times this doesnt happen even after 30 years or so....for eg take PCR... it was revolutionary no doubt but till cheap and effective automatic thermal cyclers came into market this technique was never wide spread. But once thermal cyclers became available easily the technique revolutionized mol bio....
    similarly with GFP.... insertion of GFP gene, formation of variants with different colours etc was the start, but people took their time putting it into everything from lizards to mouse... but once they started using it, people found that a lot could be done and infered using GFP and hence the nobel...

    sometimes it so happens that a phenomenon discovered does not have necessary technology ready to exploit it... time required for that tech to mature varies and so we have RNAi nobel even before GFP....both being justified fully!!!

  2. my argument is not regarding the worthiness of particular discovery...
    i agree that all those discoveries were great genuine and it takes time till it develops as a technology...but i seriously feel a huge time lag between the discovery and the appreciation it gets in the form of a nobel...! that is all i wanted to put over thr...also there are many who work all their life and such a great invention comes in their late years and after that you announce a noble after 20 more years...u wont even expect the person to be alive at that stage...!

  3. U knw wat its not possible to have forsight of how significant the discoveries are at the time of publishing..U knw wen quantum mechanics tried to provide answers for various phenomenon, many of the physiciists cudnt accept that a science laid down by newton which held true for almost 200 yrs providing so many answer for day to day life problems.But ultimately its widely accepted when it comes to answering questions at the sub atomic level...
    Example 2 - Zieglier & Natta were two scientist who proposed mechanisms and carried out the reaction of polymerisation of ethene molecule to produce polyethelene.Never did great industrialist or even scientists realise that this discovery wud be one of the bench marks of science...Its such a reactions that would be useful for everyday purpose..the product was plastic..wich changed the way we use things now...It was then in 1965 after 15 yrs they were awarded the NObel prize...Now tellme how cud any1 have the vision untill its importance was practically realised...its impossible to have such a thats way at times Nobel prize are awarded after realising the significance of a given discovery!!

  4. exactly...infact later i was wondering about aapdo mendel....

    if anything he shoud get a nobel...

    of course he didnt get the Nobel cause he was dead and theres no posthumous Nobel....

    none-the-less i think there must be posthumous nobel and atleast mendel and Rosalind Franklin must get their due apart from many more....

  5. here's the wiki link that explains clearly why nobel prizes, especially in fields of science, are given after a considerable time lag.

    go to the "Recognition Time Lag" portion of the article.

    in short, it says that scientific discoveries/inventions need to be "tested by time" for their authenticity. the time lag problem is seen mainly in the scientific discoveries n not in the nobels awarded to literature n peace.

    reading this, it seems appropriate to have this time lag, but may be they can figure out some way such that the invention doesn't go unrecognised in case the scientist doesnt live long enuf.

    hey btw, what does the nobel-laurate receive?

  6. okie.. the prize-money is approx US $1.5 million, which is quite high to be given off to some discovery if it cannot really hold true over a period of time.
    tht justifies the time lag to some extend... though not completely.

  7. apart from money theres loads and loads fo recognition, invitation to various posts, oppurtunities to collaborate and i guess all this would in the end be worth more than all the zillions.....