Nobel season

Nobel season

As long as we’re talking about the season, we might as well mention another of the fall’s characteristics, something as reliable as the leaves crunching underfoot, as take-to-the-bankable as the falling mercury and lost mittens and the snow that falls only when it is not forecast.

It’s time to play Is That Nobel Prize Winner Jewish?

Maybe some of us are too noble to play the Nobel game, but none of us here know any of those people.

The question of why so many Jews win Nobels is an interesting one, and far beyond our pay grade here at the Standard. Nature? Nurture? Parental expectations? Irrepressible curiosity? Duty-bound attention to detail? The perceived inability to farm? Disinterest in heavy lifting? Who knows.

What we do know is that the parade of Nobel winners has started already. As we go to press on Wednesday, four prizes have been awarded, and two of them go to Jews – one, Robert Lefkowitz, an American physician and biochemist, shared the chemistry prize. The other, Serge Haroche, is French, of Moroccan descent. A physicist, logically enough he won the award in his field.

We are of course awed by the intellectual rigor, wild creativity, and organizational talent that permits any scientist to do work that might even be considered for a Nobel. It is an extraordinary accomplishment. But somehow the tribal impulse at our core makes us rejoice even more when the recipient is Jewish.

And the season has just begun!