Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/95

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE NOBEL PRIZES

The great prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel were awarded for the sixth time on December 10, the anniversary of the death of the founder, as follows: Physics, Professor J. J. Thomson of Cambridge; chemistry, M. Moissan of Paris; medicine, Professor S. Ramón y Cajal of Madrid and Professor Camillo Golgi of Pavia; literature, Professor Giosuè Carducci of Bologna; for the promotion of peace among nations, President Roosevelt. These international awards, of the value of about $40,000, are of sufficient magnitude not only to be of interest to scientific men, but also to attract the attention of the civilized world. They are thus a real factor in increasing the dignity of the scientific career and in encouraging scientific work.

Regret has already been expressed here that the confidence placed by Nobel in his native land has not been justified. His large fortune was made in Great Britain by the discovery and manufacture of dynamite, and it seems likely that the instructions of his will would have been more adequately carried out if their execution had been entrusted to the Royal Society and the British courts. Nobel doubtless believed that the international obligations would be fully met by the Scandinavian countries, and it is truly sad and discouraging that there should be lack of good faith in the administration of a fund intended as the testator states 'to benefit mankind.'

Nobel's will is perfectly clear and explicit. It directs that the interest from the fund ' shall be divided into five equal parts,' which shall be annually awarded in prizes to those persons who shall have contributed most materially to benefit mankind during the year immediately preceding. "One share to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention in the domain of physics; one share to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one share to the person who shall have made the most important discovery in the domain of physiology or medicine; one share to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most distinguished work of an idealistic tendency, and, finally, one share to the person who shall have most or best promoted the fraternity of nations and the abolishment or diminution of standing armies and the formation and increase of peace congresses."

In face of these explicit directions statutes have been drawn up, apparently with the sanction of the King of Sweden and others high in authority, providing that only sixty per cent, of the income need be used for the prizes and that they need be awarded only once in five years. The balance of the income—except perhaps in the case of the prize for the promotion of peace, regarding which information is lacking—is now used for the support of certain laboratories and libraries at Stockholm. These are doubtless needed, possibly more than the prizes established by Nobel, but they have been founded in dishonor. The clause establishing the laboratory of physics and chemistry is unpleasantly disingenuous. It says that it is to be "established primarily for the purpose of carrying out, where the respective Nobel committees shall deem requisite, scientific investigation as to the value of those discoveries in the