And the controversy has started already. Two French scientists, Luc Montagnier and Francoise Barre-Sinoussi are being awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering H.I.V.
An American scientist, Robert Gallo, says he was shafted - he has frequently been credited as a co-discoverer of HIV. If the Nobel could be split among more than three people (the third person on this year's prize discovered H.P.V.), Gallo surely would have been included.
Controversies over the Nobel prize and credit are nothing new, but they are bound to get much, much worse. Nobel-caliber discoveries being made today frequently involve a lot more than three principal scientist, which means that in the future, a Nobel Prize limited to three people will seriously distort how credit is allocated and possibly sink into irrelevance. In fact the Nobel prize may already be becoming more irrelevant - many of the prizes, especially in biology, are awarded to near-retirement scientists decades after the discoveries were made, almost as an afterthought. This is in stark contrast to many of the mid-20th century prizes, which were frequently awarded to people still very active in the field.