Looks like the glass is half-empty around some of the chemistry blogosphere (and twittersphere, if that’s even a word) today. But here’s some good news. Consider Jack Szostak, the most chemistry-oriented of the Medicine-Nobel-winning trio. The fact he’s shared in this prize should matter a lot to people thinking about what kind of work *should* win the Nobel Prize.
Unlike his co-winners, Szostak isn’t really in the telomere field anymore. His interests have since shifted- to RNA and to the origins of life. Szostak is a fox in the Isaiah-Berlinian sense– someone who’s looked at the world through a variety of scientific lenses.
Szostak has had multiple scientific careers, Tom Cech, former HHMI president and himself a Nobel laureate (in chemistry) told me over the phone. “I don’t want to give the impression that he flits around from one thing to another. Whenever he moves into a new area, he makes deep and lasting contributions, and then moves on to something else where he can make a big impact,” he says.
In choosing the scientists who won for telomere biology, “clearly the Nobel Committee went back to the intent of Alfred Nobel’s will, which said that the award was supposed to honor an important discovery and not be a lifetime achievement award,” Cech adds.
UPDATE: FWIW, Terra Sig has a fantastic post about the chemistry prize. The money quote: “If I see electrons being pushed around, it’s chemistry.”