But regardless of the exact calculation, the slim number of prizes reinforces my long running argument that polymer chemistry is just a small fraction of the world of chemistry. Arguments that half chemists work in polymers have no merit. I ran some numbers earlier this year and came up with 8% or so as a more realistic number. This number in fact correlates rather well with the number of Nobel Prizes (4/62 = 6.5%).
Whoever does win, I do hope that their research can be easily explained to freshman. I have a whole class full of them and being able to include this as enrichment material on Wednesday morning would be wonderful. It's been a good year for making tie-ins with current events. The timing could not have been better for ytterbium to be reassigned a new atomic weight, since I had just been lecturing about how the fractional abundances of isotopes contribute to atomic weights, and suddenly there was this real world example. Similarly, the discover of flowing water on Mars (on the basis of sodium-/magnesium perchlorate) was perfectly timed with a lecture on electrolytes in water (thank you NASA!). So if the people in Stockholm could give me a heads up so that I have time to adequately prepare, I would appreciate it.
You could argue that the Schrock / Grubbs Nobel for olefin metathesis was related to polymerization...
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