Abolish the Nobel Prize … and use the money to advance science!

The model of scientific progress represented by the Nobel Prize which awards individuals for long-past achievements is outdated and does harm to scientific collaboration, which often requires dozens and hundreds (e.g. CERN) of highly-talented (young) researchers to work together as peers to make new discoveries. 

I propose to promote science by using the money of the Nobel foundation to improve the often precarious situation of young researchers (e.g., PhD students, Postdocs, Assistant professors), especially of neglected groups, e.g., women or people of colour, and create a less hierarchical (tenured professors vs the rest), and competitive environment which harms communication and collaboration. As exemplified by the career of unusual Nobel prize winner Katalin Karikó (2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, together with Drew Weissmann) for her discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19, the academic environment drives highly talented researchers out of academia into the industry, and very “lucky” incidents are needed, such as the global health emergency created by COVID-19, to shine a light on the scientific achievements of such a researcher (while they are still alive).

In addition, the award of several Nobel prize winners seems highly questionable in the light of their overall career (e.g., war criminal Henry Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize (1973), climate denier John Clauser received Physics Nobel Prize (2022)) and the award gives their opinion an undeserved attention and credibility.

However, at present there are too many people benefiting from the Nobel Prize: Alfred Nobel and family could whitewash their wealth from selling weapons (explosives), Sweden gains world-wide attention as a central hub for science, peace and economy once a year, the Swedish Royal family has some actual work to do, and many science dinosaurs can do victory laps at the end of their careers.