If you go to the National Science Centre in Mont Kiara, you will find a colorful wall full of portraits of all the recepients of the various Nobel prizes over the years. Walking alongside the wall, we can't help but notice a few Nobel winners that chose to stick out of the crowd and have quite nonconformist poses for their official Nobel portraits. Here are some of them...
Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004), recepient of the Nobel Prize in Literature 1980, "who with uncompromising clear-sightedness voices man's exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts"
Thomas Mann (1875-1955), recepient of the Nobel Prize in Literature 1929, "principally for his great novel, Buddenbrooks, which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature"
Eric R. Kandel (1929- ), one of the recepients of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2000, "for their discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous system"
Gerard Debreu (1921-2004), recepient of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1983, "for having incorporated new analytical methods into economic theory and for his rigorous reformulation of the theory of general equilibrium"
Looking at all the portraits on the wall, I couldn't help but notice that even more than significantly evident was the domination of European males or males of European descent in the list of recipients. Of course, sprinkled here and there, are some females, some Arabs and East Asians, and some of African descent. But the absolute supermajority of males of European descent in the Nobel Prize list makes me think:
1. Research done in other parts of the world needs better recognition than those done in the Western countries.
2. Significant hurdles in research (i.e. budget, equipment, facilities) need to be overcome in order to do more groundbreaking research. These hurdles might be more prominent in developing countries.
3. The brain drain, as in, the migration of great minds from third world or developing countries to developed countries such as the United States and/or the United Kingdom might have played a part in more scientific breakthroughs from the developed countries than the rest of the world.
4. The scientific community mostly consist of male scientists / researchers. For a significant period of time, females were either denied a scientic education/training (in favor of domestic training) or they were mostly not attracted to the field of science and scientific research.
Also, I could not help but wonder: Would I live to see the day when a Malaysian would rise and become a Nobel Laureate?
A Malaysian could only wish.