Resurrected a old letter that I wrote to the Times to post on my blog. (It was never published in the paper.) Here it is:
Tuesday October 5 was a sad day for scientists in New York. The front
page of the Times had no mention of award of the Nobel Prize in
medicine to Richard Axel, a professor at Columbia University, for
fundamental work done in New York City on the molecular basis of
smell. There was also no mention of this achievement in that Tuesday's
Science Times. There was, however, a front-page story about a
different prize for technical excellence: the ten-million dollar
Ansari X Prize, which was awarded to a consortium headed by
multi-billionaire Paul Allen for shooting a spaceship 70 miles above
the earth from Mojave, California. While this was clearly a milestone
for commercial ventures, countless rockets from many nations have long
ago surpassed this height. What is one to make of this -- an apparent
triumph of money over merit, in the coverage of science?
NYT Tuesday 5 October
Unraveling Enigma of Smell Wins Nobel for 2 Americans
By LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN
Two American scientists who solved the enigma of how people can smell 10,000 different odors and recall them later were awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine yesterday.
The winners, who will share the $1.3 million award, were Dr. Richard Axel, 58, a professor at Columbia University, and Dr. Linda B. Buck, 57, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Private Rocket Ship Earns $10 Million In New Space Race
October 5, 2004, Tuesday
By JOHN SCHWARTZ (NYT); National Desk
Late Edition - Final, Section A, Page 1, Column 1, 1368 words
DISPLAYING FIRST 50 OF 1368 WORDS -A private rocket ship shot into space this morning and won a coveted $10 million aviation prize for its creators. SpaceShipOne, the sleek combination of rocket and glider designed by Burt Rutan and financed by the billionaire Paul G. Allen, reached a record altitude of 368,000 feet, or 69.7...