It’s Nobel Week!

Yes, and the German weekly Die Zeit is already on the ball and ready with its coverage. To start with, the schedule of prize-announcements is here; it lets us know that the Medicine, Physics, and Chemistry prizes will be announced around noon on Monday (today), Tuesday, and Wednesday, respectively. As perhaps befits subjects not belonging to the exact sciences, the Peace and Literature prizes are simply supposed to be out sometime by the beginning of next week (meaning presumably by next Monday). That is also when the winner of the Economics Prize will be announced – also not an exact science, many will say, but in any case the one “Nobel Prize” that is not a Nobel Prize, since Alfred Nobel never provided for any economics prize in his will and it was rather set up in parallel to the Nobel Prizes by the Swedish Central Bank in 1968.

If you’d like a scorecard to follow along with as the award-announcements proceed through the coming days, the Die Zeit piece links to this survey of potential winners, in English, from Thomson Reuters. This time it’s the “exact sciences” plus economics about which the (unnamed) Thomson Reuters reporters speculate, not the “softer” subjects that are more interesting for this observer, namely Peace and Literature. Still, it should be interesting to see whether anyone on their candidate-lists actually wins the respective prize.

Back to Die Zeit, it tops its pre-coverage off, in the hope that the next week will swell the ranks of German winners, with this picture-gallery of the German Nobel winners since 1979. Or at least what it wants to label as such – they somehow neglect to include Günter Grass, winner of the Literature Prize in 1999. In setting that arbitrary cut-off year they also exclude probably the most famous German Nobel prize-winner of them all, namely Willy Brandt, winner in 1971 (for his Ostpolitik reconciliation policy).

One final complaint I have to add is that, although that 1979 cut-off does allow the possibility of the German winners being East German winners, the descriptions of each person don’t usually provide enough information for one to be able to assume or to exclude that possibility, at least in many cases. On the other hand, the 18th winner in the picture-series (out of 21), Ernst Ruska who invented the electron-miscroscope, is described as having done his most important work “five decades ago,” i.e. in the 1930s under the Nazi regime. This hardly invalidates the magnitude of his achievement, of course, nor would any connection on the part of any of the other prize-winners to the DDR; it just would be interesting to know.

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