The Remarkable Jewish Nobel Prize Puzzle

There is an awkward paradox in science concerning its best and brightest. From 1901 to 2017, only 902 human beings have excelled to what is considered the highest level possible, earning Nobel Prizes. The problem is that 203 of them were Jewish, an astounding 22½ percent. The Jewish people therefore—only one fifth of 1% of the world’s population—are over-represented by a mind-boggling 11,250% at Nobel podiums.

Moreover, it has been Jewish scientists and mathematicians who not only claimed the lion’s share of the highest accolade the world can offer, but whose achievements among these great discoverers were so monumental as to have ended one era and initiated the next.

Albert Einstein, of course, heads the list and no words need be wasted detailing how classical physics was virtually shattered and re-made owing to his works. But, there are other astoundingly important Jewish Nobelists who have earned the right to be considered a peer of Einstein.

Murray Gel-Mann, of Cal Tech in Pasadena, California, didn’t change the way we view everything in the relativistic universe, but only its tiniest known building blocks. Professor Gel-Mann is the discoverer of quarks.

Fritz Haber’s genius has changed the world probably more than any human who ever lived. Half of us wouldn’t—and couldn’t—be here without the Haber process. There is only enough naturally occurring fixed nitrogen on Earth for an agricultural base sufficient to support roughly 3.5 billion people; the current population tally is over 7 billion. What that means is simple: 50% of all the fixed nitrogen in the average person’s DNA is artificial. It was cooked up in ammonia factories, utilizing Herr Haber’s process, used to produce stupendous quantities of fertilizers, and finding its way through crops into all of mankind’s collective chromosomes.

Michelson, Bohr, Hertz, Pauli, Feynman—the list of titanic Jewish figures in science reads as a virtual compendium of the greatest minds of the last century. There are many more in the also-ran category, who for inexplicable reasons never were awarded Nobel Prizes. Jonas Salk is a prime example; all he did was single-handedly eradicate polio from the face of the Earth.

So how have the Jewish people managed such a feat? This question should certainly garner the attention of those otherwise occupied in their incessant campaign to diminish, weaken and antagonize Israel. But, in truth, these are the very people who themselves would never be considered for a Nobel Prize even were they granted ten lifetimes in which to earn one. Their reason for being is constantly scrutinizing and finding fault with Israel, not appreciating the astounding benefits to their own lives owed to Jewish genius.

Doctrinaire activists who burn Israeli flags aren’t generally known for their scholarship, hard-work, religious piety, family orientation, thrift, honesty, modesty, introspection or open-mindedness. Those, however, are the very virtues that the Jewish people have passed down from generation to generation over the millennia. And that formula has obviously borne fruit, the results to be seen by anyone with a pair of eyes at the awards ceremonies at Stockholm.

Until some blue-ribbon panel of sociologists, psychologists, physicians and other scientists can give tenable answers to this shocking over-representation of Jewish accomplishment in the realm of the highest excellence, perhaps the world community might simply thank its lucky stars that such a nation as Israel exists, and hope and pray that more such states just like it emerge.

About the Author
David Nabhan is a science and science fiction writer. He is the author of "Earthquake Prediction: Dawn of the New Seismology" (2017) and three other books on seismic forecasting.
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