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Press Release: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2007
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2007 is awarded for groundbreaking studies in surface chemistry. This science is important for the chemical industry and can help us to understand such varied processes as why iron rusts, how fuel cells function and how the catalysts in our cars work. Chemical reactions on catalytic surfaces play a vital role in many industrial operations, such as the production of artificial fertilizers. Surface chemistry can even explain the destruction of the ozone layer, as vital steps in the reaction actually take place on the surfaces of small crystals of ice in the stratosphere. The semiconductor industry is yet another area that depends on knowledge of surface chemistry.

It was thanks to processes developed in the semiconductor industry that the modern science of surface chemistry began to emerge in the 1960s. Gerhard Ertl was one of the first to see the potential of these new techniques. Step by step he has created a methodology for surface chemistry by demonstrating how different experimental procedures can be used to provide a complete picture of a surface reaction. This science requires advanced high-vacuum experimental equipment as the aim is to observe how individual layers of atoms and molecules behave on the extremely pure surface of a metal, for instance. It must therefore be possible to determine exactly which element is admitted to the system. Contamination could jeopardize all the measurements. Acquiring a complete picture of the reaction requires great precision and a combination of many different experimental techniques.

Is it just me or this is an Europeans year for nobel prizes ? Chemistry especially has a reputation for going very often to Americans...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 06:51:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"It's cyclical"

"It's a one off"

"They can't sustain it if they don't reform"

"It's US companies that profited from their discoveries, showing the failures of the European way"

etc, etc...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 07:49:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chemistry often goes to Americans because American make up most of the Chemistry Nobel prize committee. Of course the committee is made up of former prize winners,  so that is a positive feedback loop.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 08:50:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Nobel Price homepage says otherwise:

The Nobel Prize Awarders

Who selects the Nobel Laureates? In his last will and testament, Alfred Nobel specifically designated the institutions responsible for the prizes he wished to be established: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for the Nobel Prize in Physics and Chemistry, Karolinska Institute for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and a Committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1968, the Sveriges Riksbank established the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economics in Memory of Alfred Nobel. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was given the task to select the Economics Prize Laureates starting in 1969.

So it is mostly swedes that decide stuff. However former winners get to nominate.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 09:41:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A guy from the Nobel museum interviewed by the morning news said that the reason Europeans are starting to get Nobel prizes again is due to the massive invesments in reseach made by France and Germany in the 70's and 80's, even though the total European dominance this year was also due to luck.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Oct 11th, 2007 at 02:37:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds probable. France recruited lots of people in the 70's, and those people are starting to reach Nobelizable age.

France has mostly stopped to recruit researchers en masse, though. I have no idea about the situation in Germany?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Oct 11th, 2007 at 06:40:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain carried out a huge expansion of the University system in the 1970's so everyone and their mother got tenure. In the 1980's and 90's the employment outlook has been bleak, leading to a lot of brain drain and many people leaving the field entirely, but all the people who got tenure in the 1970's are going to be retired before 2015 so, assuming their positions are not simply eliminated, there will be another wave of recruitment.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 11th, 2007 at 06:48:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stop and go recruiting at its most stupid. The same thing might happen in France.

Well, let's hope the Anglo disease hasn't hit too hard and that those retirments are actually replaced.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Oct 11th, 2007 at 08:43:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
tomroud.com » Blog Archive » Devinette
Reponse : Albert Fert, prix Nobel de physique 2007, illustration parfaite a la fois de ce qui marche tres bien et devrait etre ameliore dans la recherche francaise. Il faut dire qu'a sa place, je l'aurais mauvaise : l'intendance industrielle ne suivant pas, les brevets sur la magnetoresistance n'ont pas ete deposes en France. Evidemment, les cretins de tout poil pulullant sur internet n'ont pu s'empecher de critiquer cette fonction publique paresseuse , qui n'est meme pas capable de se reveiller a temps pour deposer un simple brevet. Rappelons donc qu'aux Etats-Unis, les universites ont des services entiers charges de ce travail, afin de laisser les chercheurs faire leur boulot, a savoir chercher (et enseigner). Mais evidemment, tout cela impliquerait en France une vraie politique scientifique, une valorisation des metiers de la recherche en general ainsi que tout simplement, un certain respect pour la recherche fondamentale et ceux qui la font. Malheureusement, le potentiel de resonance de ce Prix Nobel qui aurait permis de mettre ces problemes sur la table sera probablement bien attenue a cause du rugby.

In short, the main reason the French didn't get patents on Fert's inventions is that French universities are so thoroughly underfunded they can't have a team responsible for following the patents applications.


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 04:49:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A fun thing to notice on the nobel prize website : despite what the press and various pundits and economists like to think and say, the site makes the distinction between the various "nobel prize in ... " and "prize in economics"...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 09:55:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the Prize in Economics is the "Bank of Sweden prize in memory of Alfred Nobel", not a "Nobel Prize".

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 11th, 2007 at 06:51:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's something I know, and many knows, but the media and economists carefully hide it.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Oct 11th, 2007 at 08:45:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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