"Ubiquitin and the ribosome, fluorescent proteins and ion channels are as fundamentally chemical as metal surfaces, enantioselective catalysts, olefin metathesis, or, just to name some fields squarely in our profession that should be (or should have been) recognized, laser chemistry, metal–metal multiple bonding, bioinorganic chemistry, oral contraception, and green or sustainable chemistry."
And ultimately he emphasizes something that we should all constantly remind each other. It's a prize, awarded by human beings. It's an honor all right, but it does very little to highlight the objective value of the research which is usually evident far before the actual recognition. The fact that we were informally nominating Robert Grubbs or Roger Tsien years before they received the prizes makes it clear that no prize was really going to change our perception of how important their work was. Today we look at Tsien's research on green fluorescent protein with the same joyful interest that we did ten years ago.
Hoffmann sees the principal function of the Nobel Prize as providing an incentive for young students and researchers from scientifically underprivileged countries, and he cites the examples of Kenichi Fukui and Ahmed Zewail inspiring their fellow countrymen. The Nobel Prize certainly serves this function, but I have always been a little wary of pitching the benefits of scientific research by citing any kind of prize. The fact is that most people who do interesting research will never win the Nobel Prize and this does nothing to undervalue the importance of their work. So even from a strictly statistical standpoint, it would continue to be much more fruitful to point out the real benefits of science to young people- as a means of understanding the world and having fun while you are at it. Prizes may or may not follow.
Hat tip: Excimer