Translator:Henyee TranslationsEditor:Henyee Translations
It was October, and the streets of Stockholm were crowded.
Every time this year, this city that was near the Baltic Sea would attract attention from all over the world due to the Nobel Prize.
Although the awards were given out by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, most Stockholm citizens were still proud of this.
Interestingly, not all of them were like this.
Back when nationalism swept across Europe, many Swedes would publicly complain or even criticize a rich Swedish scholarNobel.
They would say how Nobel never donated his inheritance to the country, nor did he give the Scandinavians any advantage of winning the prize. What Nobel left behind wasnt a gift, it was years and years of trouble.
Even Hans Fischer, the then president of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, complained that Nobel should have donated the money directly to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences instead of making them go through the cumbersome award-giving process. Not to mention, Nobel refused to attend the meeting regarding the process of the awards.
Fortunately, due to the relentless efforts made by Ragnar Sohlman, Nobels trustworthy assistant, the King of Sweden finally announced the effectiveness of Nobels will and ended the controversy surrounding the 31 million kronor.
It turned out that most people were short-sighted. Before the Internet existed, very few people had the opportunity to see the world beyond the Baltic Sea.
But looking back, that 31 million kronor was the most cost-effective investment in the world.
There had never been a city that had received this much honor due to a prize-giving process. There had also never been a Swede, not even the King of Sweden or the Prime Minister, that had left such a huge and timeless legacy to this country.
Of course, this also came with trouble.
Especially for the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, who has upkeeping Nobels testament for over a century.
The closer it got to the fourth of October, the more lively and exciting the atmosphere in the town of Stockholm was.
Logically, the Nobel Prize winners list was prepared three days ago.
But this time, the Nobel Committee for Chemistry didnt reach a consensus.
This had happened before. Due to the differing opinions of the members of the Nobel Prize Committee, the Nobel Prize announcement was delayed until mid-October. However, there was no reason for it to happen this year.
Under the pressure from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the members of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry held a meeting once again.
Over the past two years, the list of committee members hadnt changed. The only change was that Snogerup Linse retired from being a chairman, while Claes Gustafsson, who had been a committee member for more than 15 years, was promoted to chairman.
The other three academicians were Peter Brzezinski, who was a professor of biochemistry at the University of Stockholm, Olaf Ramstrom, who was a professor of organic chemistry at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and Professor Johan Aqvist, who was a professor of molecular biology and computational chemistry.
Old Ms. Linse looked sharply at the members in the room and spoke in a determined tone.
Were all that is left. The Royal Academy wants us to make a decision as soon as possible, at least before the 4th.
In fact, theyve made a decision a month ago.
Chairman Professor Claes nodded.
Like what Academician Linse just said, we have to make a decision. This will be the final meeting, I hope you all will give us your opinions.
The other three members looked at each other and nodded.
This would be the last time they discussed this issue.
The last review meeting of the year
Objectively speaking, the decisions made by the Nobel Committee for Chemistry was bewildering. The 2017 cryogenic electron microscopy was fine, but the 2016 molecular machine was a completely new concept. Although the results were good enough, they were still a long way from knowing its application uses.
What made people astonished was the lithium battery. Every year, people would predict that the father of lithium batteries, Goodenough, would win. However, it was almost like the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences forgot he existed.
Other than the Theoretical Model of the Electrochemical Interface Structure by Lu Zhou, Professor Franz-Ulrich Hartl from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry and Yale University professor Arthur Horwich who were on their intracellular protein folding research was also a worthy consideration.
Prior to this, the two big names had already won the Lasker Award, which was like a mini Nobel Prize. Almost fifty percent of Lasker Award winners would eventually go on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry or Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
In addition to this, there had been a recent strong development in optogenetics as well as motor proteins.
This showed that chemists were more likely to produce stellar biology research results.
At first glance, biology seemed to be quite attractive.
Of course, if ones goal was the Nobel Prize
After some preliminary exchanges of opinions, the meeting began to decide on the final nomination.
As expected, the focus of the meeting was on the Theoretical Model of the Electrochemical Interface Structure.
The atmosphere of the meeting was becoming more and more intense
Olof: No matter what, we have to consider a real chemistry achievement this year. If Mr. Nobel finds out that we have changed his most favorite Nobel Prize in Chemistry into a Nobel Prize in Biology, Im sure he would be furious.
Peter said in a fierce manner, But he is only 24 years old! Younger than Lawrence Bragg! Cant we wait until after his 25th birthday to consider him?
Olof said, But is there a better theoretical chemistry research result?
Peter paused for a moment as he began to think. He then said hesitantly, Research on molecular dynamics? Roberto Car from Princeton has made excellent progress in this field.
Olof shook his head and said, I admit his work is excellent, but it is far from being outstanding.
Peter complained, Then give it to the folding protein cells! Why do we have to narrow it down to theoretical chemistry?
Ms. Linse nodded her head and said, I agree with Peters viewpoint.
In 2015, it was her idea to give the Nobel Prize to the DNA repair.
Now, the opinion was the same; she believed that this award should be given to biochemistry.
Olof said, Since were not limiting the research field, then why are we limiting the age of the winner? Nobel has never said in his will that his inheritance has to be given to old people.
Johan, who hadnt spoken yet, suddenly said, I think Academician Olof is correct. Not only is the electrochemical interface structure an achievement in electrochemistry and theoretical chemistry, but it is also a pioneering contribution to the field of computational chemistry.
He was a researcher in computational chemistry. There wasnt anyone else at this table who had a more accurate understanding of how excellent the theoretical model was.
However, this was the biggest disagreement in the Nobel Prize selection process.
As science continued to develop, the boundaries between disciplines became more and more blurred. However, the directions of research became further and further apart. It was extremely difficult for scholars to understand research beyond their fields; it was even more difficult to accurately compare the research results.
A fight seemed to have begun on the conference table.
Chairman Claes, who hadnt said much, looked at Olof and Peter. He thought for a moment before he clapped his hands, interrupting the dispute on the conference table.
Fine, gentlemen and ladies. It doesnt make sense to argue any longer. Let us use the most democratic, fair, and most traditional way to settle this.
Everyone looked at each other.
Although there was no agreement, they didnt object to Academician Claes suggestion.
When opinions differ, there was no better way than taking a vote.
After Academician Claes saw that the committee members didnt object, he gestured for his assistants attention.
His assistant could tell what Cleas wanted. The assistant stepped forward and placed a piece of A4 paper in front of everyone.
Ms. Linse picked up a pen and wrote a word on the paper. She then looked at Claes with a surprised expression and asked, You knew this was going to happen?
I had a feeling it would turn out like this, Academician Claes said as he smiled and folded his paper. He gently placed the paper in the middle of the conference table and said, We rarely reach a consensus, right?