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Nobel Laureates Say the Honor Outranks the Money With AM-Nobel-Literature

December 7, 1992

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ Winners of the four Nobel science awards said Monday the honor is more important than the money, so it does not matter much that each award lost $242,000 in value since October.

″If we had been more intelligent, we would have done some hedging,″ said Nobel economics laureate Gary S. Becker, 61, a University of Chicago professor. Sweden’s decision last month to let the krona float caused the prizes’ value to drop from $1.2 million each when announced in October to $958,000 by the time King Carl XVI Gustaf presents them this week.

Becker; Canadian-born American Rudolph A. Marcus, the chemistry laureate who teaches at the California Institute of Technology; Polish-born Frenchman Georges Charpak, the physics laureate now working in Paris and Geneva; and medicine prize winners Edmond Fischer and Edwin Krebs, who collaborate at the University of Washington in Seattle, collect their gold medal and scroll Thursday in Stockholm.

Nobel literature laureate Derek Walcott of St. Lucia receives his award at the same time in Stockholm.

Rigoberta Menchu, an activist for Indian rights in Guatemala, receives the same amount. But as Nobel Peace laureate, she gets the award in Oslo from the Norwegian Parliament.

The money is automatically transferred into the winners’ bank accounts. The medicine prize is shared, but the other winners get the full amount - whatever it is - by Thursday.

″Most Nobel laureates will tell you it’s the honor, not the amount of the prize,″ Krebs said. ″But it is shocking to see the value drop by 10 percent in one day.″

Krebs, 74, said he and Fischer, 72, have discussed using some of the prize money to ″help institutions that have helped us.″

Charpak, 68, agreed with Krebs that science is fun. ″Most scientists do science because of the pleasure of it,″ the physicist said.

Charpak, who works in Geneva at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics and at the Higher School of Physics and Chemistry in Paris, goes mountaineering and said he is also promotes human rights.

″One cannot be indifferent to people being oppressed,″ said the former inmate of the Nazi death camp at Dachau.

Marcus, 69, who teaches at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, commented, ″The reason for being in science is not the money. The reason is one likes to solve problems.″

Marcus said he will probably invest his prize money and keep working.

″I find that that within my research I am reasonably in the forefront, I’m enjoying very much what I’m doing,″ he said.

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