When the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced on 14 October that Georges Charpak of CERN is the winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his invention and development of particle detectors, in particular the multiwire proportional chamber,” the academy was continuing the process begun in 1901, when the physics prize was awarded to Wilhelm Röntgen for the discovery of x rays. Over the ensuing nine decades, the selection process has been remarkable for its secrecy, the care with which it is done, and the high quality of the research honored.

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