Sunday, October 14, 2012

The European Union’s Nobel Peace Prize: Controversial Honor?

Even though current EU president Jose Manuel Barroso say’s it’s an honor for the European Union to be the 2012’s Nobel Peace laureate – but is this a rather controversial bestowment of honor?

By: Ringo Bones

The European Union winning the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize further reinforces outsiders’ perceptions yet again that the Nobel Peace Prize is the most controversial of all the Nobel Prizes annually awarded. Although the five-person Nobel Peace Prize Committee elected by the Norwegian Storting (Parliament) did give justification on why they unanimously awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to the EU – namely the European Union’s promoting reconciliation since World War II despite of the political and diplomatic obstacles posed by the Cold War. And after the 20th Century’s two terrible world wars are largely waged on the European continent, this is no mean feat indeed.

Despite of the current Eurozone debt crisis which seems the European Union is still formulating a lasting solution, incumbent EU president Jose Manuel Barroso not only expressed that EU winning this year’s Nobel Peace Prize is an honor but also proves that the EU is something very precious. Sadly, the monetary funds of the Nobel Peace Prize only amounts to around 1.1 million US dollars – which is 14% down from last year after a difficult global economy affected the Nobel Prize Committee’s hedge fund earnings financing the prizes. Meaning the prize is far too small to be used to bail out the Eurozone debt crisis. Well, at least the Nobel Peace Prize also comes with a 23-karat gold medal about two and a half inches across that weigh nearly half a pound and designed by Swedish sculptor Erik Lindberg, and don’t forget that uniquely designed diploma that resembles a medieval illuminated manuscript.

Despite the moans and groans of those who didn’t agree with the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee awarding this year’s Nobel peace Prize to the European Union, the other worthy contender – a 14-year-old girl blogger from Pakistan named Malala Yousafzai who was busy campaigning for girl’s basic education that was shot by the Taliban last week – wasn’t nominated early enough for the February 2012 deadline for the Nobel Peace Prize nominees for this year. Well, at least there’s still next year’s Nobel Peace Prize to consider. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Is The Nobel Foundation Running Out Of Money?

Does the recent cut-back in the cash portion of the annual Nobel Prizes mean that the Nobel Foundation is running out of money? 

By: Ringo Bones 

It was announced back in June 14, 2012 that the Nobel Foundation will be undergoing a cash prize reduction of their cash prizes that goes with the Nobel Prizes by as much as 20% due to the “tough economy”. Does this mean that the Nobel foundation – which got its start from the initial investment stipulated in Alfred Nobel’s will, is now finally running out of money? 

 The decision for the foundation to opt for a 20% cash prize reduction seems odd given that the Nobel Foundation started handing out annual economics prizes since 1969. Can’t they “hire” these gifted Nobel Economics Prize laureates for an advice in restructuring their finances as to make the 20% reduction in the monetary prizes unnecessary? 

From a historical perspective, the austere fiscal environment of our post 2008 global credit crunch world would seem like a mere “rainy day” compared to what the global turmoil Alfred Nobel’s initial investment went through. As in two world wars that killed millions, the Wall Street financial crash of October 1929 that resulted in the Great Depression. Not to mention a “Cold War” where two global superpowers nearly brought us mutually assured destruction. 

It is worth noting that the Nobel foundation started when Alfred Nobel, in his will, provided that the major portion of his fortune be utilized in the following manner: the capital – about US$8,311,000 at the then prevailing rate of exchange – was to be invested by the executors in reliable securities, thereby forming a fund, the interest of which, was to be distributed annually “in the form of prizes to those who have, during the preceding year, conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” 

Since it started, the prize fund had grown by adding a stipulated part of the annual yield and by a given part of such prize money as is not awarded. Variations in the prize amounts were previously maintained due to taxation, from which the Nobel Foundation has now, however, been practically exempted; at present they depend on the market, as the prizes are based on the annual yield of the fund capital.
Since 1948, the prizes have increased from about US$32,000 to more than US$50,000 each. The prize amounts in the first five prize categories during the same year are always alike but can, as said before, be divided. There is no formal objection against the same individual receiving a Nobel Prize more than once either in the same field or in another one. If a person is awarded a prize and declines it, he or she is still considered a Nobel Prize winner. 

The cash portion of the prize, then and now, has always has a bread-and-butter aspect that goes with the joy of winning a Nobel Prize. The money allows some recipients to carry their research forward: in the case of Marie and Pierre Curie, for example, who together won half of the money of the 1903 award for physics – the other half, by the way, went to Antoine Henri Becquerel. The stipend allowed Pierre Curie to give up his teaching job and concentrate on research. Could Pierre Curie be able to quit his teaching job if there was 20% reduction Nobel Physics Prize money? 


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Nobel Peace Prize: No Nobel Laureate Left Behind?

As heroic Burmese human rights campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi finally been able to accept in person the Nobel Peace prize that was awarded to her back in 1991, does this mean that the Nobel Peace Prize doesn’t leave any laureates behind? 

By: Ringo Bones

Its now official – in June 16, 2012 – Burmese human rights campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi has finally been able to formally accept the Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded to her back in 1991 in Oslo, Norway. It took 21 years for Aung San Suu Kyi to accept her Nobel Peace Prize in person because she was subjected under house arrest by the Burmese junta for the same length of time. And she was just recently been freed and allowed travel outside Burma. According to the Nobel Peace prize Committee in Oslo, Norway – Ang San Suu Kyi was proven to be a good moral leader, then and now. Does this spell good hope to those Nobel Peace Laureates who were unable to formally accept theirs? 

The 2010 Mainland Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo was still unable to formally accept his own Nobel because he is currently serving a lengthy prison term in a Mainland Chinese maximum security prison for his work calling for more freedom for the average Mainland Chinese citizen. Sadly, the Beijing government doesn’t approve of this, denying Liu Xiaobo to formally accept his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. But like Aung San Suu Kyi, his Nobel awaits that glorious day when he will be able to accept in person his Nobel – whether it takes 20 years or more. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Should Rebiya Kadeer Be Awarded The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize?

Though many had been clamoring for a number of years now that she truly deserve to be a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, but is it high-time for Rebiya Kadeer to be awarded one for her Uyghur human rights campaign?

By: Ringo Bones

Even though three women shared the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize – i.e. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen – is it high-time yet again for another woman to be deserving of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for her tireless campaign for rights to a people that most people don’t even know about? Although if she wins this year, it could anger yet again the Beijing government like it did when Liu Xiaobo became the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Uyghur rights campaigner Rebiya Kadeer, who used to be an MP in the Beijing “monolithic” communist party has been campaigning for Uyghur cultural self-determination years before the mainstream press got attention back in 2007. Even though some Uyghur majority province in the outlying People’s Republic of China’s “Wild West” had been granted a semblance of autonomy by Beijing, Uyghurs are still denied cultural self-determination because public / state schools in these provinces are still forbidden by Beijing to teach the Uyghur language and alphabet to kids. And poorer Uyghurs who are not paying exorbitant taxes to Beijing are often subjected to persecution. Largely Muslim and quite distinct in appearance and culture in comparison to the Han Chinese majority that ran Beijing’s rather “monolithic” communist party, is it now high time for Uyghurs to get cultural self-determination that they deserve and Rebiya Kadeer be awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize?

Quasicrystals: 2011 International Year of Chemistry’s Nobel Moment?

It might not be the most exciting Nobel Chemistry Prize since Alfred Nobel formulated his will, but is the 2011 Nobel Prize for Chemistry on the discovery of quasicrystals one of the scientific community’s “sleeper” awards?

By: Ringo Bones

The awarding of the 2011 Nobel Chemistry Prize to the 70-year-old Israeli-born professor at Iowa State University and researcher at the United States Department of Energy named Dr. Dan Shechtman who is also a professor of materials at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel might had only received scant attention by the mainstream press. And even ridiculed by some in the scientific community when he began his work on quasicrystals by deriding his work as: “there are no quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists.” is now unanimously hailed as truly deserving of the 2011 Nobel Chemistry Prize due to the unlimited promise that his work could progress on what we currently working at from better rechargeable batteries to ultra-light yet ultra-strong metal alloys from Dr. Shechtman’s years of study on silver-aluminum quasicrystals. But what in the world are quasicrystals anyway?

According to Dr. Shechman’s research, quasicrystals are materials in which atoms were packed together in a well-defined pattern that never repeats. After years of research, quasicrystalline materials are still currently studied and some are already used in a large number of practical applications like making ultra-durable steel for use in fine instrumentation and non-stick insulation for electrical wiring and cooking equipment. Could quasicrystals someday create rechargeable lithium iron phosphate batteries that rival the power-to-weight ratio of the petrol-powered internal combustion engine?