Nobel reflections

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Early October saw the announcement of this year’s suite of Nobel Prize recipients and, as has been the case on quite a few occasions in recent years, there was some consternation when it came to the Chemistry prize. Many thoughts were expressed in the blogosphere and twittersphere and Carmen’s post over at C&ENtral Science has a few handy links that you can use as a starting point.

Now that the dust has settled somewhat, we’ve taken a look at the issue in our December editorial. The first paragraph is repeated below as a teaser:

Chemistry is often referred to as ‘the central science’ and its associations to all fields are clearly there to behold, but to some these links may stretch too far. Some purists have had their chemical noses put of joint with the recent awarding of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for ‘studies of the structure and function of the ribosome’ — apparently a topic that, for some, is not chemistry but biology. The arguments over the undeniable biological bent of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry are not new, but they seem to have reached a new level of intensity (or at least visibility) this year with various blogs and tweets doubting its current relevance to chemists. The award certainly leads to questions over the definition of chemistry and whether such ‘structural biology’ can indeed be classified as chemistry.

The rest of the article is available for free on our website to anyone with a account (and if you don’t have one, it’s easy to sign up for one).

There is also an ‘Editor’s Letter’ (an Editorial?) in the November issue of ACS Chemical Biology that considers the same topic, including whether we need new Nobel Prizes.


Stuart Cantrill (Chief Editor, Nature Chemistry)

Stu Cantrill

Chief Editor, Nature Chemistry, Springer Nature