Akshat Rathi of “The Allotrope” pointed me to an Economist post on the graphene prize (by the way, MS word still asks for a spell-check on ‘graphene’). The writer seems to be a little miffed that a graphene award which was a ‘shoo-in’ for the chemistry prize in his opinion was awarded to physicists, thus depriving chemists of their glory. I can imagine some chemists feeling similarly rebuffed, although they should now ironically anticipate a much more ‘chemical’ prize tomorrow.
I am finding all this extremely amusing. Till last year chemists were galled to find chemistry prizes being awarded to biologists and this year they are going to be unhappy because their prize is being appropriated by physicists? Note that this despondency seems to be rather limited to chemists. I haven’t seen that many physicists complain about their prize awarded to biologists or vice versa.
But to me this disappointment again resoundingly underscores what I have always maintained- that the unique cross-disciplinary nature of chemistry is precisely what makes it the ‘central science’, a field which straddles all of biology and physics. There can be no better tribute to chemistry than the fact that debates are ignited every single year about ‘other’ scientists treading across chemical boundaries. The din only proves that just like sheer films of graphene, chemistry coats the surface of every other field of scientific inquiry and gives it a luminous glow.
The philosopher Karl Popper supposedly devised criteria for distinguishing "science" from "non-science" (and often from nonsense). I think he would have had a much harder time devising tests for separating "chemistry" from "non-chemistry". We chemists should be proud, every single one of us.
P.S. It's also worth noting a commentator's comment on the post which says that unlike fullerene, graphene was initially the domain of physicsts so a physics Nobel seems to be quite justified.
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