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Suggestions for Improvement

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.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.