Nobel Week in links

Nobel Week: General
For non-Scandinavians wondering how big an event NobelPrize Day is, this Swedish TV site gives you a good idea. http://svt.se/nobel

After each year’s Peace Prize is announced, the lovely people at the Nobel Peace Center have only a few weeks to create an exhibition in time for the Laureates to open it. This year’s exhibition is called SHEROES. http://nobelpeacecenter.org/english/?did=9087488

If you haven’t seen the inspiring and humbling Nobel Peace Prize speeches, I urge you to read them. http://bit.ly/rraufF http://bit.ly/sdM1YV http://bit.ly/uWv69t

… and see the CNN interview afterwards, where the question of tokenism is dispatched pretty sharpish.  http://bit.ly/tAnbnt

Nobel Prize Ceremony opening speeches have a different theme each year. This Year’s theme was fostering creativity & innovation through education. bit.ly/sYmhUz

If you care about your daughters, don’t let them watch the Nobel Prize ceremony. http://bit.ly/sZhYJF

But if you want royal fashions during the Nobel Prize ceremony, I’ll give you royal fashions. http://bit.ly/rRn1dL All eyes were on Crown Princess Victoria, who is 6 months pregnant. http://bit.ly/sUvqWVAnd here’s some other people you won’t recognize too. http://bit.ly/suu9NO

And here’s the slacker’s guide to winning a Nobel Prize http://ow.ly/7V8IZ

Nobel Week: Laureates
Nice New York Times profile of this year’s Economics Laureates – Intellectual sparring partners for 40 yrs & now reluctant celebrities. http://nyti.ms/vxCN6E

The perennial question of how Nobel Prize winners spend their money has been answered this year by Brian Schmidt – he’s donated $100,000 to an Australian primary school science programme. http://bit.ly/va4Xml

Excellent profile of Dan Shechtman, the Chemistry Laureate who was told he was a disgrace after showing colleagues his groundbreaking quasicrystal result. http://bit.ly/ul9qQx

Charming profile of Tomas Tranströmer, which provides a taste of how popular his award of the Nobel Prize is in his home country. http://bit.ly/vmAK75

Did you know this year’s Literature Laureate is a keen entomologist & even has a beetle named after him? http://bit.ly/v49zra

This year’s Nobel Prize Banquet menu… which for some inexplicable reason is always kept a secret until the guests are seated. http://t.co/P3kAKyZj

Don’t often see this. The Wall Street Journal ran an ad from NYU Stern congratulate Thomas Sargent on his Nobel Prize. http://ow.ly/i/n6Ir

And in other news… 

Physics
Physicists offer their thoughts on whether they think the Higgs boson real, including a limerick from one Nobel Laureate. http://bit.ly/rBg2Ig

If the Higgs boson is found, then which of at least 6 possible contenders would get a Nobel Prize for it? http://natpo.st/vrwoIn

Chemistry
Excellent piece of scientific history: Scientific American defends Marie Curie—and women scientists—in 1911. http://bit.ly/szbFI4 

Literature
Sotherby’s are auctioning manuscripts by only Arab writer to win Literature Nobel Prize. Cost? A cool £50-70K. http://bit.ly/vPs4uZ

Peace
“It’s become more than a movie, it’s become a lesson in life as well.” The new Aung San Suu Kyi film premiered this week. http://nyti.ms/uZBBou

Five Peace Prize winners have called for the release of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, arguing that the world has already begun to stop thinking about his case. http://on.wsj.com/vWRQsv

Meanwhile, China’s Nobel-naysaying alternative honours Vladimir Putin with Confucius Peace Prize. http://wapo.st/vPZXoQ

Week in links (27 Nov-03 Dec)

General
Plans for a new Nobel Prize Center in Stockholm have been announced, designed to be a contemporary meeting place for Nobel Laureates, researchers, students, school pupils and the general public. http://bit.ly/u0X22J

Interview with the new Executive Director of the Nobel Foundation, Lars Heikensten. Wish he had been pushed more on future directions, especially the three-person rule. http://bit.ly/v9tVMc

Physics 
Two physicists have bet chocolate Nobel Prize medals on whether evidence for the Higgs boson will be found at the Large Hadron Collider. http://nyti.ms/ukFazo
(P.S. Another Physics Laureate appears to have made a bet on whether the Higgs boson will be discovered http://bit.ly/rJ2LhR)

Charming cartoon on how to win a Nobel Prize, according to this year’s Laureate Adam Riess. http://bit.ly/vqVWfN

Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose crowd-sourcing philosophy is gaining traction in the university classroom. bit.ly/tOCGtM

Medicine
Nobel Laureate Françoise Barré-Sinoussi says she is “furious” that funding into HIV & AIDS research is dropping. http://bbc.in/s7Owo5

Literature
Gabriel García Márquez wins 17-year legal fight with man claiming his life story provided the basis for the main character in Chronicle of a Death Foretoldhttp://bit.ly/t1WrU1

Will Bollywood’s Big B play Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in a new movie? http://bit.ly/rFFOwG

Hollywood is taking on the “impossible” challenge of trying to film literary works by William Faulkner, the Nobel Laureate famous for his stream of consciousness writing. http://tgr.ph/uDabKP

Polish poet and 1996 Laureate Wisława Szymborska is said to be recovering well after surgery. http://bit.ly/t3E0S6

Remember this New York Review of Books article on what’s wrong with the Nobel Prize in Literature? The president of the Nobel Committee has responded. http://bit.ly/ufwfK5

Peace
US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton and Aung San Suu Kyi have made an unprecedented public vow to work together and promote democratic reforms in Myanmar. http://bit.ly/uxrhG2

On Twitter @DigitisationSA is mining the Luthuli Museum archives to relive the stories and the controversies surrounding Albert Luthuli’s trip to Oslo 50 years ago, when he became the first African to receive the Nobel Peace Peace. http://bit.ly/vovb5c

The first English-language collection of works by Liu Xiaobo has been published in English on the first anniversary of his Peace Prize award. http://bbc.in/tqGXwS

The leaking of nominations for next year’s Nobel Peace Prize has begun… http://bit.ly/vVxktw

Economics
Readers of Freakonomics put their questions to Daniel Kahneman, father of behavioural economics. http://bit.ly/u15ngl

And finally…
In society news… Princess Madeleine is skipping this year’s Nobel Prize festivities in Stockholm to attend a women in science event in NYC. bit.ly/vIVeBf


The 2011 Nobel Prizes in quotes

“The decision to award the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to the late Ralph Steinman shall remain unchanged… The events that have occurred are unique and, to the best of our knowledge, are unprecedented in the history of the Nobel Prize… The decision to award the Nobel Prize to Ralph Steinman was made in good faith, based on the assumption that the Nobel Laureate was alive.”

Statement from the Nobel Foundation to confirm that Ralph Steinman would still be awarded the Medicine Prize, despite dying three days before the announcement was made.

 

“We got the first call from a reporter from Sweden, who asked me how I felt. And I said “How do I feel about what?” And he told me that we’d won the Prize and my wife, of course, rushed to the computer to check to see whether this was a hoax!”

Saul Perlmutter, 2011 Nobel Laureate in Physics, on not knowing he had been awarded the prize.

 

“The phone rang, it was 5:30, and it was Swedish-sounding people, and I knew they weren’t from Ikea.”

Adam Riess on being woken up by the call to tell him he had been awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics.

 

“The biggest day of my life, I am trending on the Australia twitter… but I am still behind Happy National Taco Day? I have a lot to learn.”

Brian Schuldt, 2011 Nobel Laureate in Physics, on Twitter (aka @cosmicpinot)

 

“Danny Shechtman is talking nonsense. There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists.”

Criticism Daniel Shechtman said he received from two-time Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling, who never accepted the findings that eventually led to the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

 

“2am in Haifa. What a day. If you’re a scientist and believe in your results, then fight for them. Even when Linus says you’re wrong. Danny”

Daniel Schechtman on Twitter (@danschechtman)

 

“Transtömer!”

Headline on the front page of the Culture section of Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter to celebrate the Stockholm-based poet’s Nobel Prize in Literature — the first Swedish Literature Prize since 1974.

 

“At first we had him down as a rank outsider but the committee have been known to spring a shock and punters the world over feel Dylan will be the beneficiary.”

Ladbrokes commenting on a rush of bets on Bob Dylan that brought his odds down from 100/1 to 5/1 favourite the day before the Literature Prize announcement.

 

“It sends out a message to the Arab world that you can’t ignore women if you want a democratic society.”

Thorbjørn Jagland, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee during the 2011 Peace Prize announcement.

 

“Truly women have a place, truly women have a face, and truly the world has not been functioning well without the input, in every sphere, of women.”

Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate on the message she hopes her award will bring to the world.

 

“I feel very happy and I want to be like my mum in the future.”

Tawakul Karman’s 14-year-old daughter in response to the celebrations for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.

 

“I’m not so sure it’s right to say we have worked together; it’s more that we have a series of continuing arguments many of which are still going on as I slowly persuade him of the error of his earlier positions.”

Christopher Sims on fellow Economics Laureate, Thomas Sargent, at a joint press conference.

 

 

“We are basically statistical historians”

Thomas Sargent, 2011 Economic Sciences Laureate with Sims, at the same press conference

2011 Prize in Economic Sciences goes to cause and effect in macroeconomics

The 2011 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was awarded to Thomas Sargent and Christopher Sims “for their empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy”.

The official background information for the public does a good job of explaining the achievements behind the prize, beginning as follows:

How are GDP and inflation affected by a temporary increase in the interest rate or a tax cut? What happens if a central bank makes a permanent change in its inflation target or a government modifies its objective for budgetary balance? This year’s Laureates in economic sciences, Thomas J. Sargent and Christopher A. Sims, have developed methods for answering these and many other questions regarding the causal relationship between economic policy and different macroeconomic variables such as GDP, inflation, employment and investments.

Perhaps, you’d prefer an explanation under 140 characters? Well, a summary was provided in tweet form by Tim Harford, the Undercover Economist at the Financial Times and author of Adapt.

If this has given you an appetite to learn more about the subject, I strongly recommend that you follow Tyler Cowan and Alex Tabbarok’s excellent coverage at Marginal Revolution. There you’ll find some background on the Laureates, context on the key achievements, and links to papers, presentations, videos and much more. If someone combined this approach with The Guardian’s live blog format, which posted reactions from experts in the field, you’d pretty much have my perfect one-stop-shop for Nobel coverage.

For now, though, I’ll leave the last word to someone who took a rather different slant on the news…

 

Let the predictions begin

Nobel season always unofficially begins when the first predictions start rolling in, and today Thomson Reuters published its annual predictions for the Physics, Chemistry, Medicine and Economics Prizes.

Since 1989, the Science business unit at Thomson Reuters has been making these predictions in one form or another, based on analyses of highly cited research papers in the prize fields. I’ll leave it to ScienceInsider to tell you a bit more about the selection process, but top of Thomson Reuters’ 2011 prediction lists are:

PHYSICS
Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger for “their tests of Bell’s inequalities and research on quantum entanglement.”
Sajeev John and Eli Yablonovitch for “their invention and development of photonic band gap materials.”
Hideo Ohno for “contributions to ferromagnetism in diluted magnetic semiconductors.” 

CHEMISTRY
Allen J. Bard for “the development and application of scanning electrochemical microscopy.”
Jean M. J. Fréchet, Donald A. Tomalia, and Fritz Vögtle for “the invention and development of dendritic polymers.”
Martin Karplus for “pioneering simulations of the molecular dynamics of biomolecules.”

PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE
Brian J. Druker
, Nicholas B. Lydon and Charles L. Sawyers for “their development of imatinib and dasatinib, revolutionary, targeted treatments for chronic myeloid leukemia.”
Robert S. Langer and Joseph P. Vacanti “for their pioneering research in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.”
Jacques F. A. P. Miller for “his discovery of the function of the thymus and the identification of T cells and B cells in mammalian species,” with Robert L. Coffman and Timothy R. Mosmann for “their discovery of two types of T lymphocytes, TH1 and TH2, and their role in regulating host immune response.” 

ECONOMICS
Douglas W. Diamond
for “his analysis of financial intermediation and monitoring.”
Jerry A. Hausman and Halbert L. White, Jr. for “their contributions to econometrics, specifically the Hausman specification test and the White standard errors test.”
Anne O. Krueger and Gordon Tullock for “their description of rent-seeking behavior and its implications.”

Last year, David Pendlebury, Citation Analyst at Thomson Reuters was quoted as saying: “People who win the Nobel prize publish about five times as much as the average scientist and are cited 20 times as often as the average scientist.” Sounds persuasive, but how good are these predictions? Well, John Matson at Scientific American says that despite a few notable triumphs the overall success rate of the individual picks has been low. Only 13 of the 111 picks made between 2006 and 2010 went on to receive a Nobel Prize, either in the year of their selection or in subsequent years.

If those odds aren’t attractive enough to persuade you to bet the house on any of the above names, you could try some of the predictions made on science blogs, like ChemBark  or Everyday Scientist, and I’ll update this post as the predictions continue to come in. Or perhaps you might not fancy what the pros think, instead heading straight to Springfield, and see the list of names predicted last year by none other than the Simpsons.

22/09 UPDATE: If crowdsourcing is more your thing, Chemistry Views magazine is asking for the crowd to demonstrate its wisdom on who will get this year’s Chemistry Prize.