No Nobel for You: Top 10 Nobel Snubs

As the 2008 laureates are announced, SciAm looks back at some of Nobel history's also-rans

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10.) Josiah Gibbs and Dimitri Mendeleev--missed out on the early Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Both Gibbs ( bottom right ) and Mendeleev had a profound influence on modern chemistry. Gibbs's work on chemical thermodynamics from the 1870s was well-known, but when it came time to award the first Nobel in chemistry in 1901, the honor instead went to a chemist whose work built on Gibbs's.....[ More ]

9.) Ralph Alpher--missed out on the 1978 and 2006 Nobel Prizes in Physics

Alpher started publishing the papers that laid the groundwork for the big bang theory in 1948. At the time, though, the technology wasn't there to confirm his ideas. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson of Bell Laboratories performed the radio astronomy experiments in the late 1960s that helped prove Alpher's predictions were correct, but by then Alpher had already moved on to other topics.....[ More ]

8.) Keith Porter--1974 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for innovations in cell biology

The same year Jocelyn Bell Burnell missed out on becoming a physics Nobel laureate, Porter was overlooked for the physiology or medicine prize. In 1974 the award was shared by George Palade, Albert Claude and Christian de Duve--Porter's colleagues at The Rockefeller University.....[ More ]

7.) Victor Ambros, Gary Ruvkun and David Baulcombe--missed out on the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology

No one in the biology community denied that Andrew Fire and Craig Mello, the recipients of that year's prize in physiology or medicine, deserved a Nobel for their work on RNAi . Still, many felt the scientists who did the research that helped lead to Fire and Mello's discovery--Ambros ( left ) and Ruvkun ( center ) working with worms and Baulcombe ( right ), plants (subscription required) --deserved a place in Nobel history as well.....[ More ]

6.) Jocelyn Bell Burnell--frozen out of the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of pulsars

As a graduate student under Antony Hewish at the University of Cambridge, Burnell detected the first pulsars . She published her results with Hewish in Nature in 1968, and, in 1973, she and Hewish shared the prestigious Franklin Institute's Michelson Medal .....[ More ]

5.) Rosalind Franklin--her work on the structure of DNA never received a Nobel

Although James Watson and Francis Crick's theoretical work sped up the process, many, including Crick, felt Franklin , with her X-ray photographs of DNA crystals, would have eventually solved the puzzle on her own.....[ More ]

4.) Albert Schatz--no 1952 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of streptomycin

Until recently, the Nobel Foundation heavily favored senior scientists over their junior colleagues, according to Nobel historians. Schatz was a 23-year-old graduate student when he joined Selman Waksman's laboratory at Rutgers University.....[ More ]

3.) John Bahcall--left out of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics for research on solar neutrinos.

Nobels in theoretical physics can be tricky. Albert Einstein famously never became a laureate for his relativity theories that shook the foundations of Newtonian physics because his predictions were not proved during his lifetime.....[ More ]

2.) Oswald Avery--never won a Nobel for showing that genes are made of DNA, not protein.

Avery was nominated for the Nobel throughout the 1930s, '40s and '50s, according to the late Nobel historian Burton Feldman--first for his work on antigens and later for his DNA research. But it appears one committee member stubbornly refused (pdf) to admit DNA was anything more than structural support for the genetic material contained in proteins.....[ More ]

1.) Lise Meitner--left out of the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of nuclear fission

In 1907 Meitner ( left ), a physicist by training, began collaborating with German chemist, Otto Hahn ( right ). They worked together for 30 years until 1938 when Meitner, an Austrian Jew, was forced to leave Nazi Germany.....[ More ]

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