Is the Nobel Sweep Over for Americans?

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So far, all of the Nobel prizes this year have gone to Americans. Nobel enthusiast and freelance writer Tatiana Divens of Vienna, Va., says we have probably reached the end of that sweep. The Nobel Committee is likely to pick someone outside of the United States and Europe for the final two prizes.


And Edmund Phelps won't have to go far to have a celebratory beer with his fellow 2006 Nobel Laureates because all the Nobel Prizewinners so far this year are Americans, as you may have heard.

(Soundbites of previous NPR stories)

MELISSA BLOCK: Two Americans have won the Nobel Prize in Physics -

Unidentified Man #1: Roger Kornberg, Stanford University, is being honored for figuring out the details of how our cells read DNA -

MICHELE NORRIS: Today, the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded to two relatively young American scientists who have given biologists an important new research tool -

Unidentified Man #2: Edmund Phelps won the 2006 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Like every other Nobel Prizewinner so far this year, he is an American.

SIEGEL: Well, the two remaining Nobel categories are literature and peace, and don't count on those going to the U.S. or Europe, for that matter. That's the prediction of Nobel enthusiast and freelance writer Tatiana Divens of Vienna, Virginia.

Ms. TATIANA DIVENS (Nobel Enthusiast and Freelance Writer): The chances of the West picking up a Nobel Prize in Peace are up there with the fact that I will get the Nobel Prize in mathematics. I can't count, and there's no Nobel Prize in mathematics. And I have a funny feeling that the Committee for Literature will continue to focus on non-English, non-European works so the other parts of the universe get a little credit, too.

SIEGEL: Since the Nobel Committee starting giving out the Peace Prize, more than 20 Americans or American organizations have won it. The last one was four years ago, President Jimmy Carter in 2002. As for the Literature Prize, only 12 Americans have won it in more than 100 years. The last one was Toni Morrison 13 years ago, in 1993. And though Tatiana Divens told our producer Jeremy Hobson that she may not be holding her breath for another American Nobel win this year, she says she is still paying close attention.

Ms. DIVENS: I set up my Nobel browser to, so if I'm not awake during a news cycle, the moment I wake up, I go down, log on, go to and find out who won.

SIEGEL: That's Nobel enthusiast and freelance writer Tatiana Divens of Vienna, Virginia, speaking to us about the chances of a U.S. sweep of the Nobel Prizes. The U.S. is four for four, batting 1,000 so far this year, with just the Nobel Prizes for Literature and Peace remaining. They're due out this week.

One more thing. For those of you who are having a hard time comprehending all the breakthrough science, here is the audio Cliff's Notes version on the technical achievements that have been honored this year, courtesy of our science reporters.

(Soundbite of previous NPR stories)

Unidentified Man #3: It looked like a Jackson Pollock painting: red and blue splotches.

Unidentified Man #4: It's a lot like going to the fuse box at home and flipping the switches to see which lights are controlled by which circuits.

Unidentified Man #5: If you think of DNA as the tape in a tape recorder, Roger Kornberg has been trying to understand the play-back head.

Unidentified Man #6: It's basically let's invest an amount today that leaves enough money in the future for people to enjoy and consume as much as we do now.

SIEGEL: Well, that should clear up everything. This year's Nobel Prizes, with two more to come.

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