Science is increasingly being done in teams as well as crossing the bounds of academic disciplines.
But there is a limit to the number of people — three — who may share a Nobel Prize, an editorial at Scientific American points out. Last year, it says, a physics prize was awarded to three researchers when a team of more than 50 people did the work. "Whereas a century ago a patent clerk famously divined the theory of relativity in his spare time, discovering a Higgs boson requires decades of planning and the efforts of 6,000 researchers," the editorial says. The Scientific American editors suggest that the Nobel Foundation either make awards to organizations — as is sometimes done for the peace prize — or changes its bylaws to allow for more than three winners.
And at The Guardian, Jim Al-Khalili says that science is also becoming more interdisciplinary, and he argues that the prizes themselves should reflect that change instead of "pigeonholing disciplines." Al-Khalili recommends that the Nobel committee come up with new categories — he offers astrobiology, artificial intelligence, and quantum biology as possibilities — that can be changed annually.
"After all, it's not a new idea; physicists and biologists have worked together fruitfully in the past. Didn't Crick (a physicist) and Watson (a biologist) do just that?" he adds.