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Nobel prizes 'should be expanded for modern issues'

1st October 2009

Some of the world's most eminent scientists have called for the Nobel prizes to be reformed and expanded.

In an open letter published in New Scientist magazine, a group of ten researchers and engineers admitted that the Nobel prizes are an 'extraordinary institution', which have recognised the advances of the past century.

However, the experts, who include professor Steven Pinker of Harvard University and the University of Oxford's Sir David King, pointed out that science has changed significantly since the prizes were conceived, as Alfred Nobel could not anticipate issues such as the spread of Aids and the danger of climate change.

'Fundamental breakthroughs in areas such as neuroscience and ecology, some of which will eventually help tackle the threats mentioned above, are also going unrecognised,' the letter added.

To resolve this, the researchers called for Nobel prizes for the global environment and public health to be created, as well as the prize for physiology or medicine to be expanded to cover the whole life sciences field.

Later this month, the Nobel prize for literature will be announced, with Ladbrokes ranking Israeli novelist Amos Oz as the favourite to scoop the honour, followed by Algerian Assia Djebar and American Joyce Carol Oates.

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