Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/621

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE AWARD OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN MEDICINE

The Nobel prize in medicine has this year been awarded to Dr. Alexis Carrel, of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New York City. This is an honor not only to the distinguished investigator, but also to the institution which has given him opportunity and to his adopted country. It may not. be altogether satisfactory to our national pride that among some forty Nobel prizes conferred in the sciences only two have come to America, and that the men in both cases have been born abroad. Professor Michelson, who received the prize in physics, is, however, a graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy, and Dr. Carrel has done his work here. It is doubtless the case that obtaining a Nobel prize is a game in which to win skill and chance must be combined. We have native born investigators who deserve as high honors as MM. Sabattier and Grignard, between whom the prize in chemistry has this year been divided, or Mr. Dalen, of the Stockholm gas works, to whom the prize in physics has been given. Still it should give us pause to reflect that no obvious injustice has been done by the failure to award a Nobel prize in medicine, physics or chemistry to a native American; perhaps also to consider that in the Rockefeller Institute, in addition to the director, Dr. Simon Flexner, of American birth but foreign parentage, and Dr. Carrel, there are at least three other foreign-born and foreign-educated investigators—Dr. Jacques Loeb, Dr. S. J. Meltzer and Dr. Hideyo Noguchi, to whom a Nobel prize might with justice be awared.

The work of Dr. Carrel is fairly well known, its character being such as to be comparatively interesting to the general public. He has extraordinary skill in technique, such as would give him a fortune beside which the $38,000 of the Nobel prize would be small, if he were willing to be diverted from scientific research to surgical practise. His work also bears witness to imagination and patience, which when united to skill supply the essentials of successful investigation. It is easy to point out that Dr. Carrel has followed lines opened up by others; that organs had previously been transplanted and kept living outside the body; that Professor Harrison, of Yale University, anticipated him in the methods of cultivating living tissues; but this in no wise detracts from the importance of the work he has accomplished. As he himself said at the reception given to him at the College of the City of New York attended by President Taft and the French ambassador: "Almost every step in scientific progress which appears to be due to the efforts of one individual is, in reality, the result indirectly of the unknown scientific work of many others."

Dr. Carrel certainly is not responsible for the exaggerations of the newspapers. It is an excellent thing 1 that the New York Times and other: daily papers of New York City have become aware of the news value of the scientific work accomplished at the Rockefeller Institute. The reports are usually based on papers presented before scientific men and on articles printed in scientific journals; the investigator may suffer from headlines, inaccuracies and the exploitation of the sensational, but these may become eliminated, and the public may become