The Nobel Albatross

Physicist Mark Jackson suggests that the prize can hasten the end of a productive research career:

Ironically, receiving the prize that recognizes a great accomplishment is often accompanied with a decline in scientific accomplishment. This is most likely due to the deluge of social demands placed upon the laureates, who are perceived not just as great scientists but also sages. French biochemist André Lwoff, winner of the 1965 physiology or medicine prize, speaking on behalf of his colleagues, observed, “We have gone from zero to the condition of movie stars. … When you have organized your life for your work and then such a thing happens to you, you discover that you are faced with fantastic new responsibilities, new duties.”

The most bizarre post-Nobel career is undoubtedly that of Brian Josephson, who shared the 1973 physics prize for devising the eponymous solid-state junction. Afterwards Josephson became a follower of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and attempted to reconcile quantum physics with transcendental meditation. He is now director of the Mind-Matter Unification Project at Cambridge University, working hard to keep Britain at the “forefront of research” on telepathy.