Many people have found the Physics Nobel Prize (see here and here) this year quite remarkable, and mostly for positive reasons. It was given to innovative, young researchers Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for work on a material that is remarkable for scientific and engineering reasons alike, and both theoretical and experimental. All good. Others have been a bit concerned about how very soon the prize was given for this work, and in other cases there has been some annoyance about how work on graphene has been attributed (a lot of people seem to be under the impression they discovered graphene, for example, which is not the case).
Well, it seems that there are quite a few strong words being written about the issue at very high levels. I was sent* a Nature News article (by Eugenie Samuel Reich) a day or two ago on the matter and it makes interesting reading. Most of it focuses on an interesting letter from Walt de Heer (Georgia Tech) to the Nobel Committee send last week in which he outlines several issues he has with the prize, focusing mostly on errors and irregularities in the prize announcement and background information text itself. The most glaring problem to me seems to be that (and I’d not known this at all) there was key work published on graphene by Philip Kim (Columbia) in a paper that appeared back to back with one of the papers mentioned as key in the Nobel committee’s text. In fact, the Nobel committee’s text apparently includes one of Kim’s figures when it discusses work of Geim and Novoselov, but makes no direct reference it.
Some have pointed out that Kim should have been a prize winner as well, for work on graphene. There was room for one more on the slate. (Geim has said “He made an important contribution and I would gladly have shared the prize with him.”)
Have a look at the article here. This is going to be interesting to watch.
Some Related Asymptotia Posts (not exhaustive):