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Blog

What do you think would be the best thing about winning a Nobel prize?

By James Dacey

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This week the Nobel Foundation revealed that the prize money received by laureates is to be slashed by 20% because of ongoing financial difficulties. The announcement comes two and a half years after the foundation first announced that it might need to reduce the size of prizes, because the global financial crisis led to losses in its assets. As of this year, the prizes will be cut from SEK 10m to SEK 8m (£729,000), marking the first reduction in the value of the prize since 1949.

On first reading this, it seemed strange – and perhaps a little sad – to learn that a prize as prestigious as the Nobel could be as vulnerable to the economic climate as anything else. But then surely recipients don’t really care about the money because the real incentive for winning a prize is the freedom you would gain as a scientist and the recognition among peers? Hmm, well I’m not so sure. From my own experience, along with anecdotal evidence, I know that prize winners and would-be prize winners certainly don’t overlook the size of the prize money, even if this is not their main motivation. After all, most of these academics are not millionaires to begin with.

We want you to share your feelings on this issue by imagining that you were in a position to become a Nobel laureate, for this week’s Facebook poll question.

What do you think would be the best thing about winning a Nobel prize?

I wouldn’t want to win
Freedom to do the science that I want to do
The recognition that my field would receive
Securing a place in the history of science
The fame and all that comes with it

Let us know by visiting our Facebook page. As always, please feel free to explain your decision or suggest another benefit to winning the prize by posting a comment on the poll.

In last week’s poll we looked at the world of science fiction, by asking you to name your favourite author from the genre. It was a popular poll and it attracted some lively discussion, but the author who stole the crown in the end was the Russian-born American writer Isaac Asimov, attracting 56% of the vote. The other authors lined up as follows, Arthur C Clarke (17%), Ray Bradbury (8%), Stanislaw Lem (7%), Robert A Heinlein (6%) Larry Niven (3%), William Gibson (2%) and Kim Stanley Robinson (2%).

Thank you for all your contributions and we look forward to hearing from you in this week’s poll.

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