Thursday, October 9, 2014

He was bypassed for the Physics Nobel

From the time they were in primary schools I had on and off told them not to work for accolades or prizes. Instead contribute to making people and the environment better. Sometimes I told them the story of Darwin vs Wallace. Today Darwin gets all the credit for the theory of Evolution through Natural Selection but Wallace is mostly forgotten.

I don't know enough to be sure that emeritus professor Nick Holonyak was more deserving of the Nobel medal for Physics. Just reading the story and some knowledge of how LEDs work, I would have though he was deserving of the prize. He didn't get it but the trio of three Japanese was given that honor for their invention of the blue LED.

If you want to be happy, do not pursue prizes and honours. How they are given out is fickle and unpredictable. In fact it is likely to cause one to lose sight of the purpose of the work and also forget that the journey is a big part of the reward.

I have finally come across this good story for me to make this a major point with them.

With so much good work done in the sciences, these days the Nobel committees have a pretty hard time deciding who to confer the honours on. It is now a matter of luck. Even luck is increasingly looming larger and more decisive than meritocracy in many areas. Meritocracy as an ideology is showing its age. Perhaps an existential crisis is not far away.

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