Nobel blogging?

Last night we had the first in a series of Nature Network Berlin dinners scheduled around the International Congress of Genetics. It was a very entertaining evening, not least because of our special guests Oliver Smithies, Mario Capecchi (both 2007 Nobel laureates) and Matt Brown (Nature Network London Editor of the Year). Just one of the many stories was by Oliver Smithies, who told us how he constructed a PCR machine after listening to a talk by G. Mullis – way before commercial Taq polymerase and PCR machines. And that machine is still running.

You could argue that surprisingly few people showed up for this event, including only four PhD students. But I don't worry too much about this, because increasing the awareness for these events takes time. But I wonder whether we could do better to disseminate the knowledge and life experience of these accomplished scientists. Time and travel costs allow only relatively few people to listen to keynote lectures or take part in a networking dinner.

The solution is obvious: we have to convince our Nobel laureates to become science bloggers. In many ways they are the perfect bloggers. Most of them probably don't know yet about science blogging, and some of them will need help with the technology. And perhaps only a few will be interested. But with a little help this could turn out very well. And we would have good company for Charles Darwin.

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13 Responses to Nobel blogging?

  1. Roland Krause says:

    I am afraid that receiving a highly recognized prize will consume each and every minute of your free time and blogging might not be a real possibility thereafter. Fortunately, there are other ways of distributing your knowledge. I should have really asked Mario Capecchi to write his autobiography.

  2. Graham Steel says:

    Nobel blogging? Excellent concept.
    Did a quick search and noted “this entry”:http://lessig.org/blog/2004/12/is_there_another_nobel_prize_b.html from 2004 in Larry Lessig’s blog.

  3. Michael Nielsen says:

    Fields medallists Terry Tao, Tim Gowers and Alain Connes all blog. Tao’s blog is extraordinary; if there’s a blog with better creative content out there, I’d love to know where! It’s at http://terrytao.wordpress.com/

  4. Martin Fenner says:

    Roland, you are of course right that free time might be a big issue. Being able to see a video of a great talk is an alternative. Luckily, the Nobel Foundation provides such a facility since 1999:
    * “Oliver Smithies”:http://nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=771
    * “Mario Capecchi”:http://nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=773
    The Nobel lecture by Oliver Smithies is similar to the one he gave yesterday. Only that he now also included his more recent experimental work (up until last Saturday).

  5. Eva Amsen says:

    I saw Oliver Smithies give a talk in Toronto recently, where he also included work that he only finished a few days before. I loved all the lab notebook images (and noticing that all his interesting stuff was done on weekends =) )
    He should really have a blog. If he can update his talk for every seminar he gives, he can also update a blog.

  6. Martin Fenner says:

    If we talk about Nobel laureates and online videos of their talks (and Germany), we shouldn’t forget the “Nobel Laureate Meetings at Lindau”:http://www.lindau-nobel.de. If you aren’t lucky enough to participate, you can still watch the presentations online.

  7. Hank Campbell says:

    Despite having blogging in our name, we don’t really blog (mostly feature articles, some blogging) but “Carl Wieman”:http://www.scientificblogging.com/profile/cwieman has a column here.
    I think the issue is time or maybe chemistry. Setting up a personal blog can be a lot of work to look like anything more than a stock site and some aggregator sites are a little too political for serious scientists to want to be involved with them.

  8. Björn Brembs says:

    “Last night we had the first in a series of Nature Network Berlin dinners ”
    I missed that one – would’ve had the time, but had no idea it was happening. When’s the next one, th shared calender seems empty for all of august…

  9. Martin Fenner says:

    Björn, I was referring to a series of dinners scheduled around the Genetics conference. You can find blog posts and pictures at “this”:http://network.nature.com/groups/berlin/notice/2008/07/17/blogs-and-pics-of-the-genetics-conference-and-the-nn-dinner-events link. There are currently no plans for August, but I would love to have a Nature Network Berlin dinner in the first week of September.

  10. Martin Fenner says:

    Hank, thanks for the link to the blog by Carl Wieman. Incidentally, he writes about new approaches to education, something that was also discussed at the conference (“Why is genetics so difficult for students to learn?”:http://network.nature.com/blogs/user/mfenner/2008/07/15/why-is-genetics-so-difficult-for-students-to-learn).

  11. Heather Etchevers says:

    Keep your suggestions coming as you think of them, on the “Friendfeed thread”:http://friendfeed.com/e/ac57facc-40cf-4e80-a002-8208609310a7/Major-scientists-with-blogs/ or on here!

  12. Prof. Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya says:

    listen the nobel lecture ofprofessor H. Zur Hausen
    http://nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=1051

  13. Martin Fenner says:

    Thanks for the “link”:http://nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=1051.
    On Wednesday Rita Levi-Montalcini celebrated her 100th birthday and became the first Nobel price winner to reach this age. Nobelprize.org posted “this interview”:http://nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=1101 to celebrate the occasion. There is also a “Nature News”:http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090401/full/458564a.html article about this occasion by Alison Abbott.