The 2011 Nobel Prize for Chemistry will be announced tomorrow and some people around the web seem to be pretty excited about it, including the always entertaining ChemBark who is live-blogging the event. I am sorry to say I don’t share that level of enthusiasm.
I’m not big into awards anyway. I might notice who won the Oscars but I will certainly not be sitting through the broadcast. (“Sitting through” is suggestive, is it not, like it is something to endure rather than enjoy). So there is that strike against it. But like the Oscar winners, I notice the Nobel winners, think “neat!” when I hear what they did (as I am not often au fait with their work prior to the announcement) and then carry on with life. Even when the palladium cross-coupling guys won last year (who’s work I most definitely did not need to look up first), I was pleased for them (especially Heck who had to retire due to lack of funding). But I did not think they were better scientists because of it. Lots of other scientists will never win the Nobel. But so what? Their work is still good and interesting. Official recognition from the Nobel committee is merely icing, albeit icing worth a fair bit of money.
Perhaps I am just a Nobel curmudgeon.