As I pointed out a few weeks ago, neither of this year’s winners of the Nobel Prize in physics has a significant connection to UC Berkeley, but it turns out that may only be because the Nobel committee gave the prize to the wrong graphene researchers. At least one prominent physicist believes the Nobel committee took some serious shortcuts in their selection process that caused them to overlook the contributions of two former Cal scientists, Walter De Heer and Philip Kim. Do I smell a recount?
In an open letter to the Nobel committee, De Heer, now at Georgia Tech, questions the accuracy of the official report documenting the scientific merits of their selection. De Heer’s objections range from a few relatively minor oversights (like mislabeled figures) to the committee’s profound misinterpretation of the historical context of graphene’s discovery, which downplays pioneering results published by himself and Kim. Ultimately, he feels that the committee awarded the prize for graphene prematurely and without full credit to all the researchers involved.
The committee has since acknowledged the presence of some inaccuracies in their report but stands by their decision process and final selection. In other words, it looks like we won’t be getting a recount anytime soon.