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vendredi 12 octobre 2012

The Jewish Nobel Prize Winners

This week is a week of pride for Jews who take pride in being Jews.
As each day, the Nobel Prizes are announced, our hearts are warmed to hear the names of Jews who win the coveted prize.
Usually, the prizes are in the Sciences: Medicine, Physics and Chemistry. In this century, Imre Kertesz from Hungary and Austrian Elfriede Jelinek (whose father was Jewish), as well as the fiery Harold Pinter have won the Nobel Prize in Literature but in the sciences, fully 1/3 of the prizes have been won by Jews! Israel has alone bagged 7 Nobel prizes this century, ahead of Germany, France or Russia.! In the field of Economics, which was instituted in 1970, the first forty years, saw 25 Jewish winners!
Many historic reasons (oppression, restricted opportunities for Jews which led them to be commercially successful) have been forwarded, as well as cultural reasons, such as educated family background and penchant for education.
In India or China, the families are as conscious of education as the Jews are, but they have never won any Nobel prizes other than Literature (one for India and two for China; one for a dissident in China).
When I was reading for my Medical Anthropology degree in London, four out of the five professors who taught us were Jewish, one of whom Cecil Helman became a good friend later on. Pointing out to him that the majority of the worlds best Medical Anthropologists are Jewish, I asked him, WHY?
He thought for a moment and replied: who should know better of being the OUTSIDER than us?
We are the perpetual Other…
Dr Robert Lefkowitz, USA
I look at this years Jewish winners: Dr Robert Lefkowitz, who won for Chemistry, is a Medical Doctor who is a Cardiologist; Serge Haroche is French Jew who was born in Casablanca, Morocco, who won the Physics Prize.
There are many cardiologists, who are of Asian origin practising in USA, but the difference is that Dr Lefkowitz chose to do research rather than do other things, which are lucrative.
(Daniel Kahneman, Israel/USA, Economics)
Jews have a concept, Mitzvah that vaguely corresponds to Mitta in the Burmese Buddhist Philosophy: doing things for others, not being selfish. Perhaps this concept, along with Education and other nurturing factors, pushes a certain number of Jews into fields of endeavour where the outcome would be of great help to many others, mankind in general. Dr Lefkowitz won his prize for his work on g-coupling-protein, the concept of enormous importance in cell function and also helpful in the innovation of medications for treatment of diseases.
(Dr Serge Haroche, the French recipient of Physics Prize was born in Casablanca, Morocco)
Today I received a post card and in it was a quote from Epictetus of Greece:
The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.
If you so not a penchant for gadgetry or accumulation of wealth, your mind may be swayed into other philosophical channels, including endeavours to help humanity. May be the Jewish concept of Mitzvah embodies this and the concept is embedded in Jewish memory. Just my theory.

A week of Pride Indeed!
(Jews consist 0.2 per cent, i.e. 2 per 1000 of the world’s population)
 Elias Canetti grew up in a Bulgarian Jewish home where Ladino was spoken but wrote in German
(He wrote twenty-nine plays including The Birthday Party, The Caretaker, The Homecoming, and Betrayal, twenty-one screenplays including The Servant, The Go-Between and The French Lieutenant's Woman, and directed twenty-seven theatre productions, including James Joyce's Exiles, David Mamet's Oleanna, seven plays by Simon Gray and many of his own plays including his latest, Celebration, paired with his first, The Room at The Almeida Theatre, London in the spring of 2000) While I was a student in London, I was fortunate to see many of his plays.

PS: One India based Tamil Physicist, two US based Tamil Scientists, one US based Punjabi Doctor, one US based Bengali Economist have won the Prize apart from Rabindranath Tagore. I am sure Sir Vidya Naipaul would object if you call him Indian! he won the prize for Literature. He is British of Trinidadian origin.
PPS: Moslems have won so far 9 Nobel Prizes.
It is foolish to compare countries or religion and their scientific ability. during the Moslem rule of Spain, 1 out of 150 scientists in the known world at that time was Jewish, including many from Spain.

15 october 2012
The Nobel Prize for Economics was announced today. One of the winners from the USA is Alvin Roth, a professor at Harvard, moving to Stanford. He is Jewish.