Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Counting Nobel Prizes

Karen Kaplan of the LA Times writes in A Nobel Prize for Creativity about the differing ways that universities count Nobel Prizes.

"Renowned physicists Hans Bethe and Werner Heisenberg and economics guru Paul A. Samuelson are all counted among Chicago's Nobel brethren.

Wait a minute.

Didn't Bethe spend virtually his entire career at Cornell University? Isn't Samuelson considered the heart and soul of MIT economics? Did Heisenberg even spend more than a few months in Chicago?"

Hooray! I am a student at the University of Chicago, and ever since I saw Heisenberg's name on a "Nobel Prize" t-shirt I bought four years ago, I've been worried about the ridiculous way it counts Nobel Prizes.

Wolfgang Schoellhammer's 1997 survey counts prizes a lot better, and places Chicago at Number Five (instead of Two) on the list with 14 prizes (of which 8 are in Economics). MIT's probably long since overtaken it, which is a good thing. On the other hand, Harvard's got twice as many Nobels as MIT on this list, which seems rather ridiculous, even for 1997.


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