Friday, October 12, 2007
Nobel Prize for Humility, Anyone?
It is another season galore of dishing out Nobel prices to world’s top achievers.
The Nobel Prize arguably remains the best known global award. The prize has a way of bringing an issue into the public spotlight or making a household name of a scientist working in a seemingly esoteric field.
However, a striking observation in this year's bonanza is the advanced ages of the recipients is their advanced ages. This may prompt the question ‘does the Norwegian Nobel committee honour only academic fossil?’ Or closer home, we could ask are they borrowing from our politics where age is elevated to an asset status even in the absence of any dividend to show for it.
Lest this observation be denigrated as trivializing phenomenal achievement from the world’s finest brains, it is imperative to record that only 2007 the Nobel Prize co-winner for Peace, Albert (Al) Arnold Gore is the youngest at the age of 59. Next youngest is UK’s co-winner in medicine, Sir Martin Evans at 66. The latter’s country lady Doris Lessing had to wait for 88 years to win the Literature prize with 25 books under her belt. The other winners were all born in the 1930s.
True, the Nobel Prizes’ committee may mean well in awarding only acknowledged, tested and proven brains. But it may equally not be mischievous to imagine that they prefer awarding people nearing their graves, figuratively that is. Or do they fear fame going into the heads of Laureates? Both ways the Nobel Prize has stood the test of time and it would only be enticing to spice youth with age to motivate burgeoning scholars. Meanwhile congratulations to all the winners for exploiting their upper faculties to fame.