Nearly all the chemist-bloggers I read felt that the chemistry nobel prizes should go to chemists, and that the work of Ramakrishnan, Steitz, and Yonath on the X-ray crystallography of the ribosome is more biology than chemistry.
I suppose that in a sense they have a point. Ribosomes come from cells, and cells are, traditionally at least, the province of biologist, not chemists. Still, I can’t help but feel the attitude that only “real” chemists deserve the chemistry Nobel is somewhat provincial and narrow-minded.
For example, ribosomes have become a great tool for chemical synthesis (Here’s one example). Ribosomes catalyze the template-directed, sequence-specific polymerization of an increasingly diverse set of monomers. And these polymeric products, the proteins, are themselves amazingly diverse of course. Catalysts, drugs, poisons, you name it.
Maybe you have to squint a little harder than normal to make ribosomes look like chemistry, but it doesn’t seem like too tough a task to me. Then again, I’m not a chemist.
UPDATE: kylefinchsigmate reflects over the fascinating history of the Nobel and biochemistry.
UPDATE 2: I fixed some syntax problems in the first two paragraphs.