The notion of the Nobel Prizes

Some points generated during a discussion with a friend:

  1. The Nobel Prizes used to be definitive of the orientation of scientific research in the past; however, staying on top of all recognition now is impossible as fields of research have diversified beyond Alfred Nobel’s, and the foundation’s, understanding and comprehension, respectively
  2. The media’s attention on the prizes has rightly waned: with the diversification of research-investments worldwide, that a single institution’s decision on a $1.2-million prize is monumental is a naïve thought; even though putting together a consortium of institutions countermines the possibility of quick, consensual decisions, the Nobel Prizes are still only running on historical momentum
  3. The time between conception and mass-production for various entities on the market are being reduced – this holds true for ideas as well; because of the delay between recording a “significant contribution” to humankind’s well-being and rewarding a Nobel Prize for it, the Royal Swedish Academy does nothing to add to the recognition of the recipient’s research efforts and all that it has made possible in the interim period
  4. Before the Fundamental Physics Prize was set up by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner this year, the Nobel Prizes were the most lucrative academic prizes in the world; however, the average age of the laureates when they’ve received the prize is between 50 and 54 (for different prizes), by which time they already have established their retirement posses and on their way to concluding their institutional affiliations. Consequently, the question is what do the Nobel Prizes really get to mobilize? Of course, it is never too late, but…
  5. Why have so few women received the Nobel Prizes? Is the gender-gap among laureates simply reflective of the gender-gap present in academic institutions and research labs? Or, prompting more cause for concern, is there a disparity between how many women-researchers publish significant papers and how many women are recognized by the institution?