Chemistry Nobel ‘06: Let’s Make It Interesting

We are less than a month away from the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on October 4th. You might remember this thread from a while back where everyone vomited out speculation on the matter. It still seems like the contest is wide open, but I’ve narrowed down my guesses to two: a ‘head’ pick and a ‘gut’ pick.

My ‘head’ pick is Roger Tsien for GFP/fluorescent probes. The technique is proven, elegant, and useful. GFP has had a major impact on how biological and biochemical research is done. Much like I (and everyone else) said for olefin metathesis, this idea has got to win a Nobel Prize some day.

My ‘gut’ pick is my boss, George Whitesides for self-assembly. Self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) are commonly used in research and remain one of the few easy ways to modify the chemistry of a surface to almost anything you want. The technique is also proven and has been used in medicine and biology. The mesoscale self-assembly work (mm-sized pieces of plastic assembling by capillary forces) might also play a factor in the decision, but just how relevant these results are to chemistry remains to be seen. George’s work has been recognized by a number of prestigious prizes recently (Preistley, Kyoto, etc.) and there seems to be a lot of buzz, so he’s on a roll. There is still a question as to whether the field of self-assembly is as developed as the Nobel Committee would like it to be, but they could just as easily look at how mature research in SAMs is and be satisfied.

I’m not claiming either of these scientists is a lock, but I’m willing to wager pints of beer at the Boston ACS in ‘07.

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12 Comments on “Chemistry Nobel ‘06: Let’s Make It Interesting”

  1. Wolfie Says:

    As I said before, for the Nobel prize, GMW does too much average quality scientific mass production, which sometimes can make it to several high profile prizes, but for the Nobel prize, mass alone is not enough. Let’s see what happens.

  2. Jordan Says:

    Interesting speculations here. I think your boss does really interesting stuff but it’s hard to see which of his /key/ contributions would win The Prize. I stand by my claim from your earlier post that it’s going to be the GFP folks (Tsien and friends).

  3. Outsider Says:

    Fraser Stoddart, David Leigh and Ben Feringa for their pioneer work in nanomotors and nanomachines. Just a personal pick

  4. right Says:

    when the machines do something besides make cute cover pictures…then maybe thoose guys can win something.

  5. Outsider Says:

    Getting millions of pounds/dollars/euros in funding to start, maybe, ummh?

  6. anon Says:

    being able to attract money doesn’t indicate usefulness.

  7. chemist Says:

    Shimomura isolated GFP and Prasher (and Shimomura) cloned it (at Woods Hole). If Tsien is included, it is b/c he is riding on the coattails of these two gentlemen.

    I agree about the work on motors. Lovely molecules, but, then again, so is adamantane, Paul’s new fragrant thiol, and so on…

  8. Darksyde Says:

    Yeah, Tsien’s not a good bet at all. Whitesides is also too ho-hum. Didn’t Irving Langmuir already win the prize for basically the same stuff? I’d say we need to award an astrochemistry prize. What about Tak Oka, for the characterization and extraplanetary identification of strange ions like H3+ and CH5+?

  9. worthy comment ? Says:

    No doubt GMW does lot much of creative production, but I doubt he fits into the theme of Nobel prize. I am just wondering as to who has accomplished some ground breaking synthetic achievement that has become, I underline the word become, of great use to human kind. All of the most probable’s work is around “just an accomplishment”-and that has become to some extent useful to human kind, but not of immense use to human kind or to say has opened doors to new and promising research. That is where so many probables are getting pointed out. But this waiting to hear about the winner is something curious.

  10. kesim Says:

    Defenitely Tsien.
    The guy is a genius and has ALWAYS been years ahead of others. Still is, btw.
    Cloning the GFP was a good thing and he did not do that, but he has contributed more than any body else to further developments. Tens of unexpected, brilliant mind-twists. And that is only small part of what he contributed to live-imaging.

  11. chemist Says:

    You guys are all wrong. If anyone at UCSD is going to win the prize this year, it is going to be K.C. Nicolaou for his tremendous synthetic achievements. The guy has revolutionized the concept of ‘team effort’. Didn’t he also shorten the total synthesis of hemibrevitoxin B by a staggering ten steps and increase the yield by 1.56% overall?

    If not KC, then definitely Steve Ley and Dave Evans. Possibly throwing in Ian Paterson to make a threesome.

    or Barry Trost. He is amazing. And he is Dylan Stiles’ advisor.

  12. The Endless Frontier » Blog Archive » Nobel Prize in Chemistry: The 2006 Line Says:

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