The tradition of Nobel Prize is longer than a century now, yet the prize remains an emblem of prestige. It brings happiness and joy, not only to a person or an institution involved, but to a nation, which longs to cherish any such precious moments. Calls were made in the middle of the night, and Swedish tones at one end try to convince the puzzled at the other that the greatest recognition has been bestowed upon them. Then, there were the overwhelming phone rings, tons of messages and emails of congratulations. There were probably many similarities in the experience of the nine newly declared Nobel Laureates of this year.
Serge Haroche from Collège de France and David J. Wineland from National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shared the Nobel Prize in Physics “for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems.” In the field of chemistry, Robert J. Lefkowitz from Duke University and Brian K. Kobilka from Stanford University shared the prize. They have been awarded the award “for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors.”
Similarly in medicine the Nobel Prize went to Sir John B. Gurdon of Cambridge University and Shinya Yamanaka of Tokyo University. To quote the Nobel committee’s words, they were given the Nobel Prize “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.” In literature, Mo Yan, a Chinese national, was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution as a writer “who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary.” The Nobel Peace Prize went to European Union for “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.” And the most recently added field of the Nobel Prize, the Nobel Prize in economics, was shared by Alvin E. Roth from Harvard University and Lloyd S. Shapley from University of California, Los Angeles “for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design”.
Perhaps the most interesting story behind all the Nobel Prize of 2012 was of Sir John B. Gurdon. A report card from Eton College in 1949 records him as a stubborn and a hopeless student in science. In fact, he graduated among the last of the 250 students. It is indeed inspiring to learn about his transition from his “hopeless” state to the Nobel Laureate he has become today. 2012 Nobel Prize also highlights the new trends in the field of science. For instance, the Nobel Prize in chemistry shows the growing trend in an interdisciplinary research in the field of science, and the growing recognition in the importance of such works. While the Nobel Prize grants recognition and monetary reward to the distinguished few, we can, at the same time, be inspired by the stories of success behind them.