Home > Editorial > The Nobel Prize and the Test of Time

The Nobel Prize and the Test of Time


This year’s Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to Charles Kao for his 1960s work on optical fibers and to Willard Boyle and George Smith for the 1969 invention of the CCD sensor. The Chemistry Prize was shared by Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas Steitz and Ada Yonath for working out the structure of the ribosome, work that began in the 1980s and was completed in 2000. The Physiology or Medicine prize was shared by Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for the 1978 discovery of telomeres and the 1985 discovery of telomerase. The Literature prize was won by Herta Müller for her depictions in poetry and prose of the landscape of the dispossessed – a body of work that spans over 25 years. The Peace Prize was awared to Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.

Let’s look at some of the more famous Nobel Prize Laureates:

Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1911 for her 1898 discoveries of radium and polonium.

Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for his 1905 explanation of the photoelectric effect.

Alexander Fleming, Ernst Chain and Howard Florey shared the 1945 prize for Physiology or Medicine for the 1928 discovery of penicillin.

Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins shared the 1962 prize for Physiology or Medicine for the 1953 discovery of the structure of DNA.

In 1979 Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work leading the Missionaries of Charity, work that she had begun in 1950.

Nelson Mandela won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in ending apartheid in South Africa, work he pursued for many years, including 27 years spent in prison.

Great works and achievements do not need to be immediately recognised with awards. Indeed, they should be allowed time to speak for themselves

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  1. Mark Struthers
    Nov 8, 2009 at 12:02

    I wonder what year Andrew Wakefield will receive the Nobel Prize for Medicine for working out the links between autistic entercolitis and vaccines.

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