Palladium-catalyzed cross coupling, in vitro fertilization, graphene — it’s been a pretty exciting list of achievements for 2010’s Nobel Prize awardees, announced this week from Stockholm, Sweden. Interestingly, one of these awards has been given to a relatively young scientist, as well as new discovery (comparatively).
- Konstantin Novoselov, who shares the award in Physics with Andre Geim for their graphene discovery, is only 36 years old. The average age for this category is 51.
- Novoselov and Geim’s discovery was made in the early years of this century (around 2003-2004). Most awards are made for contributions decades old.
All three contributions to science are significant. The palladium-catalyzed cross coupling discovery makes it easier to bind carbon atoms, which in turn makes it less challenging to create organic compounds that might be used in medicine. Roberts Edwards’ work on in vitro fertilization has made it possible for millions of couples around the world to conceive a child. And graphene, the thinnest and strongest material now known, could lead to new and exciting developments in technology.
It’s not easy to get a Nobel Prize in any category — the selection process is rigorous and subject to high standards. Alfred Nobel indicated in his will that should there be no contribution worthy of the award in any given year, then the Committee should skip that year. Since its first awards in 1901, the Nobel Committee has skipped granting 50 awards in the various categories.
Some other interesting facts about the Nobel Prize:
- Though 806 Prizes have awarded from 1901 to 2009, only 40 of these have been to women.
- Two Laureates have declined the Prize (Jean-Paul Sartre and Le Duc Tho), and four have been forbidden by their government to accept the award of money associated with it.
- Linus Pauling is the only recipient to have been awarded an unshared Prize more than once.
We applaud the various recipients of this year’s awards and wish them success in their continued projects. If you would like to learn more about this year’s various discoveries or the Nobel Prize, see below.
Written by Heather Falconer
Heather Falconer holds undergraduate degrees in Graphic Arts and Environmental Science, as well as an MFA in Writing and an MLitt in Literature. She is currently completing her PhD in Rhetoric and Composition, with an emphasis on rhetoric in/and/of science. Heather has worked internationally in academic publishing as both an author and editor, and has taught a wide range of topics from research writing to marine biology in the public and private educational sectors.