Stockholm, home of the Nobel Prizes. Credit: Ty Rogers
Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Max Planck, Marie Curie; James Watson, Francis Crick, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling; Ernest Rutherford, Werner Heisenberg, Fritz Haber, Alexander Fleming. These are the scientists whose brilliant work revealed the inmost workings of the physical world, saved countless lives, and shaped our intellectual landscape. They are members of an elite group with a staying power that ephemeral celebrities like Russell Crowe, Charlize Theron, and Tom Cruise cannot match.
They are Nobelists: scientists whose discoveries have been deemed so important that they were presented with an award for lifetime achievement in the search for fundamental (and sometimes synthetic) truth.
Each year, an esteemed group of new winners are welcomed into the Nobel fold. This year, the work of Barry J. Marshall and J. Robin Warren on Helicobater pylori and its role as the cause of ulcers won the Nobel in physiology and medicine; John L. Hall and Theodor W. Hänsch added lasers to the insights of Roy J. Glauber, and all three won the physics award; and Yves Chauvin, Robert H. Grubbs, and Richard R. Schrock expanded the field of organic synthesis for the prize in chemistry.
All of us at Seed wish we could hop a plane to Stockholm and raise our glasses to these extraordinary researchers and their work—but someone has to hold down the fort. So we sent one representative, our editor-in-chief, Adam Bly. We also tapped local cognitive scientist Anders Sandberg. Together they are our eyes and ears at the events that make up Nobel Week 2005.
Originally published December 8, 2005