Top 10 Nobel Snubs

As the 2008 Nobel Laureates are announced, SciAm looks at the top 10 Nobel snubs – those who undoubtedly deserved the award, but never did:

  • Lise Meitner: left out of the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of nuclear fission
  • Oswald Avery: never won a Nobel for showing that genes are made of DNA, not protein
  • John Bahcall: left out of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics for research on solar neutrinos
  • Albert Schatz: no 1952 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of streptomycin
  • Rosalind Franklin: her work on the structure of DNA never received a Nobel
  • Jocelyn Bell Burnell: frozen out of the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of pulsars
  • Victor Ambros, Gary Ruvkun and David Baulcombe: missed out on the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology
  • Keith Porter: 1974 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for innovations in cell biology
  • Ralph Alpher: missed out on the 1978 and 2006 Nobel Prizes in Physics
  • Josiah Gibbs and Dimitri Mendeleev: missed out on the early Nobel Prize in Chemistry

In addition I can’t help but notice that these two were snubbed from this list too:

  • Einstein for never receiving a Nobel for his achievement in developing special or general relativity or the famous E=mc2 equation of mass–energy equivalence (he did, however, receive a Nobel in 1921 for explaining the photoelectric effect in terms of quantum theory: essentially inventing the concept of photons).
  • Fritz Zwicky for presenting ideas about neutron stars and supernovae in 1934.

Of course, Einstein and Zwicky were theorists, and the Nobel committee has never looked kindly on theorists, preferring those who conduct key experiments instead.

Again, on top of all of these are the countless other scientists who have been denied a Nobel Prize simply because they died before the importance of their discovery was shown: Nobel Prizes are never awarded posthumously.

via Seed

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