We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
That's an amazing story, but he missed several opportunities which any person could, or should, have followed up on. He gave away the genes, and he could have asked for work as a quid pro quo.
In most sciences, sharing information and data is (or should be) fairly standard behavior. That isn't what's confusing to me. What is confusing is why he didn't talk it over more and do some basic horse trading.
Some people don't have a knack for it. I'm lousy at managing business relationships, yet I'm in a Sales role. I recognize my shortcomings on the relationship side and make it up by focusing on my strengths and taking advantage of these when the opportunity presents itself.
At least he's back doing what he likes, and it was very thoughtful of the people involved to include him in their Nobel celebration.
Very interesting. It reminded me that the skills an entrepreneur uses are very valuable - even critical - in other positions. Being a go-getter is not always enough. Creativity in your main tasks are important, but they are also important in the activity surrounding your main tasks.
Each time I hear of a Nobel Prize recipient, I recall the prize's raison d'être:
It was intended to polish the reputation of Alfred Nobel, who was known as the merchant of death because of his most explosive invention: dynamite.
Evidently, the PR has been a success.
Plenty of people have profited from war, death and destruction. At least Nobel realized that his inventions were being viewed in a highly negative light. His desire to shift his fortune toward more useful pursuits is the stuff that makes the free market as great as it is.
He was able to take his fortune and make them work toward the betterment of mankind. It's likely the prizes themselves, through the work they have honored and funded, have improved or saved more lives than have been lost to his inventions.
It appears to me as if it was more than just bad luck and poor networking that cost Prasher the ultimate science prize: it was a considerable degree of ignorance and obtuseness on the part of the Nobel committee that cost him the appreciation that the laureates, Chalfie and Tsien, graciously extended him. If the committee felt that the discovery of the GFP protein was so prize worthy, IMO they should also have accorded equal weight to Prasher's isolation of the GFP gene, which was crucial to the later work of Chalfie and Tsien. Prasher's gene appears to have been the cornerstone of the prize winning work for which Chalfie and Tsien were awarded the Nobel in 2008. Absent Prasher's hard work as the link between Shimomura and Chalfie/Tsien, there would have been nothing for those three fine scientists to celebrate in 2008.
FYI, here is the official Nobel citation for the 2008 Chemistry prize from Nobel.org. After reading it, perhaps you will agree with my take on it.
"Osamu Shimomura first isolated GFP from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria, which drifts with the currents off the west coast of North America. He discovered that this protein glowed bright green under ultraviolet light."
" Martin Chalfie demonstrated the value of GFP as a luminous genetic tag for various biological phenomena. In one of his first experiments, he coloured six individual cells in the transparent roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans with the aid of GFP. "
"Roger Y. Tsien contributed to our general understanding of how GFP fluoresces. He also extended the colour palette beyond green allowing researchers to give various proteins and cells different colours. This enables scientists to follow several different biological processes at the same time."
Postscript: In science, it definitely helps to have friends in high places and also a very long career, which unfortunately Prasher did not have, because---as in everything else---the history is written by the survivors. Case in point: Alfred Rusel Wallace versus Charles Darwin. In the popular mind at least, the theory of evolution is invariably associated with Darwin and his "On the Origin of Species...," while Wallace is the truly "forgotten man."
Yes, this seems like a blatant slight by the committee. Perhaps b/c Prasher didn't have a high-prestige position.
Too bad, it would have been much more interesting for a courtesy van driver to hear his name as a Nobel laureate.
Anyway, don't beat up on Prasher too badly for his mistakes in networking. I did a post-doc at UGA and then took a position at a research lab which seemed a lot like Prasher's. After 1.5 years of isolation I was pretty depressed and had lost my confidence. When you're there, it's hard to reach out to anyone b/c you're unsure if you can do the job you're asking for.