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The Almighty Buck Science

For Sale: One Nobel Prize Medal (Slightly Used, By Francis Crick) 179

Posted by timothy
from the but-where-would-you-put-it? dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "UPI reports that for the first time in the history of Nobel Prize, one of the Nobel Prize medals, along with the diploma presented by the Nobel committee, is on auction — with an opening bid of $250,000. Awarded to Francis Crick, who along with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1962 'for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material,' the medal will be auctioned off in New York City, by Heritage Auctions. The medal has been kept in a safe deposit box in California since Crick's widow passed away in 2007 and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Francis Crick Institute of disease research scheduled to open in London in 2015. '"By auctioning his Nobel it will finally be made available for public display and be well looked after. Our hope is that, by having it available for display, it can be an inspiration to the next generation of scientists," says Crick's granddaughter, Kindra Crick. "My granddad was honored to have received the Nobel Prize, but he was not the type to display his awards; his office walls contained a large chalkboard, artwork and a portrait of Charles Darwin."'"
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For Sale: One Nobel Prize Medal (Slightly Used, By Francis Crick)

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  • by AuralityKev (1356747) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @11:35AM (#43015241)
    When I see things like these, especially with grandkids as the spokespeople, it just makes me think it's a cash grab. It's not due to any "inspirational" mojo behind hanging it up somewhere. If that were the case, they should just donate it outright, and maybe have people pay a couple bucks a gander, and toss that to the Francis Crick Institute. Not "a portion" of the proceeds, which could be $10 on a potential windfall.
    • by oodaloop (1229816) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @11:41AM (#43015339)
      Portions can be represented as fractions, and 0/0 is a fraction, right?
    • by ledow (319597) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @11:52AM (#43015463) Homepage

      To be honest, Crick was a bit of a git anyway (and Watson wasn't exactly what you might call a gentleman). They basically stole someone else's unpublished scientific work to confirm their own data (mainly, it has to be said, because she was only a woman) and without which they'd have ended up with entirely the wrong model. They were loathe to credit her, even after her death, even though others did.

      Not saying they *didn't* do a lot of the work, but without her observations, comments, and years of working on data, they'd have been lost for quite a while longer than they were.

      • by Graydyn Young (2835695) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @12:27PM (#43015827)
        For those wondering who this post is referring to, that would be Rosalind Franklin.
      • by PTBarnum (233319) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @12:36PM (#43015931)

        This claim is, at best, controversial. Some people say that Rosalind's lab partner Maurice Wilkins gave her unpublished work to Watson and Crick without her permission; Watson and Crick say that it was in fact officially released by King's College. I'm not aware that Franklin herself ever stated that she had been robbed. Wilkins was included in the Nobel prize; presumably Franklin would have been also had she still been alive.

        • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @12:58PM (#43016147)

          I'm not aware that Franklin herself ever stated that she had been robbed.

          According to wiki and whoever they cite, she probably wasn't aware her data was used [wikipedia.org] and died before she would have found that out.

        • by FleaPlus (6935)

          It's also worth noting that Francis Crick wished to give Rosalind Franklin greater credit, but didn't due to the personality conflicts between Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin:

          http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2010/11/03/rosalind-franklin-and-dna-how-wronged-was-she/ [scientificamerican.com]

          Moreover, she became great close friends with Watson and with Crick. But sheâ(TM)s unlikelyâ"if in fact she felt they had stolen her discovery. She must have known that they were using her data because there were no other dataâ"her data are acknowledged in Crickâ(TM)s paper. And again, in the second paper he published in Nature a month later. What prevented Crick from giving a much fairer acknowledgment to Rosalind Franklin in the original Nature paper, which he wished to do, was that he to negotiate this with Wilkins.

          So in his original draft is, he says, "We thank Rosalind Franklin for her beautiful uh photo of DNA," which makes quite clear that this was what he was relying on. Now, at Wilkinsâ(TM) suggestion he crossed out the phrase "beautiful photo." So it was not an adequate acknowledgment but it was a very different story than stealing her discovery, which is the way it has been portrayed.

          Elkin: Nicholas, you are absolutely right. There was an earlier, more accurate acknowledgment. It wasnâ(TM)t to Franklin, it was to Wilkins and Franklin and it did say "very beautiful photographs" which only meant Franklinâ(TM)s. And Wilkins was the one who crossed it out. There are actually six drafts. Very interesting to see that.

          And also to see how weak, false, even the first two or three were, before Wilkins got it to decimate it more compared to the draft they wrote about the first model, where they very very clearly acknowledged Franklin.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Feyshtey (1523799)
      Perhaps the family of Dr. Crick reexamined the value of a Nobel Prize when a Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded to Barack Obama for simply promising to be a nice guy, sans any actual significant personal accomplishments in humanitarian arenas. In many ways the Nobel Prize has become somewhat of a joke, even if one were to discount the award presented to President Obama.
      • by the gnat (153162) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @01:13PM (#43016305)

        Perhaps the family of Dr. Crick reexamined the value of a Nobel Prize when a Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded to Barack Obama

        What exactly is the problem with you people who can't tell the difference between the Nobel Peace prize and the prizes for Physics, Chemistry, or Medicine? What makes you think the two categories have anything to do with one another, either administratively or politically? They could give the Peace prize to Bashar Assad this fall and it would still have zero relevance to the worth of the chemistry prize.

        • by Feyshtey (1523799)
          What's the problem with people like you who assume that the only blunders in the Nobel awards have been for the Peace prize? There are 4 listed here for chemistry rizes alone, and dozens more in areas other than the peace prize: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Prize_controversies [wikipedia.org]
          • by the gnat (153162)

            You mentioned Obama's Peace prize, not me. If you think the controversies surrounding various science prizes devalue the award, you should have said that instead of pointing to irrelevancies. I'm guessing you had never heard of these other controversies until you Googled them just now; they're generally of interest to science geeks and ignored by the general public. (Except for the time when Damadian made an ass of himself - buying a full-page ad in the NYT tends to attract attention.)

          • Moving those goalposts around must be pretty tiring. Why don't you take a rest?

          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            Did you read them? All four of the chemistry ones are related to controversies about whether (all) the right people were properly credited for important advances. Did this person's work constitute the discovery, or was it this person who really launched the new field? None of them are on par with vagueness or political motivation of the peace prizes, which have been given to attempted coup leaders, terrorists, random people like Obama and Al Gore, for popularizing global warming.

    • by neonKow (1239288)

      I agree on most points, but I'm pretty sure almost no one is going to pay money to look at a Nobel Prize.

      • by jest3r (458429)

        This Slashdot story paid for by Heritage Auctions ... hoping that at least one Slashdot reader has $250K to drop.

    • Yup, I think the same thing. It would be interesting to do some research on the granddaughter and see exactly where she is in life, and to find out exactly how much she plans on "donating" and how much she plans on pocketing. Cause stunts like this always seem shady to me.

    • It's hers to sell. She shouldn't have to justify it to you or anyone else. You're an ass for suggesting that she should. Being neither a member of the family or the Nobel comity, it's none of your damned business.

    • Could just be legalese to the effect that the auction house usually takes a percentage, but who really knows.

  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @11:50AM (#43015445)

    I'll give you $50!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Award them to the relatives of Rosalind Franklin.

  • by jestill (656510) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @11:52AM (#43015473) Journal
    It would be great to buy this and donate it to the Rosalind Franklin Society ... http://www.rosalindfranklinsociety.org/ [rosalindfr...ociety.org]
  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @12:01PM (#43015557) Homepage

    Are they restricting the bids to museums?
    I see no where that private individual cannot buy this to add to their personal collection.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @12:01PM (#43015563) Homepage

    That way, he'd be able to claim that he's a Nobel-holding doctor, rather than just a doctor!

  • Auction Link? (Score:5, Informative)

    by wisnoskij (1206448) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @12:02PM (#43015569) Homepage

    Here is a link to the item, it is being auctioned off by Heritage Auctions: http://historical.ha.com/c/item.zx?saleNo=6093&lotIdNo=50001 [ha.com]

  • That's gotta be worth something
  • by cellocgw (617879) <cellocgwNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @12:35PM (#43015917) Journal

    Poo on buying the medal: they should release the CAD data so we all can download and print our very own 3D copy.

  • by OakDragon (885217) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @12:43PM (#43016017) Journal

    Perhaps Michael Mann would be interested [examiner.com].

  • by tompaulco (629533) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @01:05PM (#43016209) Homepage Journal
    If it comes with the Prize Money, I bid half a million.
  • by hotdiggity (987032) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @01:15PM (#43016331)
    The Eagle Pub [wikipedia.org] in Cambridge belongs to Corpus Christi College, and it is the place where Crick and Watson announced the helical DNA structure.

    Corpus has the money; it could afford it. It's historically relevant, and I could think of nothing better than to hold a raise a pint in their honour.

    And then maybe chase it bitterly with a bottle of Jack Daniels, in tribute to young Miss Rosalind Franklin from whom they stole so much.

  • You give something to somewhat they can do what they like with it. A lot more interesting prize is loaning an award to someone for a year- like the Stanley Cup.
  • by D H NG (779318) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @01:40PM (#43016679)
    Did the submitter even read the article? It clearly said that Aage Bohr's medal was sold last year [bruun-rasmussen.dk].
  • Isn't this the guy who came up with the structure for DNA while on LSD?
  • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @05:14PM (#43018983)

    Why would anyone want it? It's not like they can somehow borrow the achievement that earned it by having it on their mantelpiece. Well I guess they could try to change the name to their own and tell anyone who will listen that they received a Nobel prize. What does the prize look like anyway? Maybe the granddaughter can just write in the name of the auction winner with magic marker or something. Maybe for 300,000+ she would be willing to cross out the other names as well so that you don't have to share the prize. I can't picture the kind of person who would want someone else's Nobel prize even for free let alone for 250k. It's sort of like buying someone else's university diploma.

What the world *really* needs is a good Automatic Bicycle Sharpener.

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