Friday, June 22, 2012

Are Nobel Prizes Obsolete?

Had lunch with a colleague who is a neuro guy yesterday and one of the things we discussed was the nature of science as an enterprise. Time was that Newton or Darwin wrote a book or Einstein or Planck wrote a paper. But now, scientific articles are almost as long as the list of authors of the article. Science is a corporate endeavor. Not that corporations control it, but that doing science requires a complex community of people doing different jobs that serve a central knowledge producing end. Persons don't do science anymore, people do. So, does it make sense then to give awards to individuals for their work? Sure, there is a head of the research program, but he or she is as much or more of a manager than a visionary. Since science has changed, shouldn't the reward structure change as well?