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Nobel Prize winners differ on most important breakthroughs

America's Nobel Prize-winning scientists variously view nuclear fission, the discovery that DNA is the genetic material of cells, and the development of the transistor as the most important scientific accomplishments of the last 50 years.

An informal survey of 24 Nobel winners by Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, which annually brings together the Nobel laureates for an awards dinner, found little absolute unanimity on any answer, but widespread general agreement on progress made or coming.

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Most, for instance, expect society to be even more profoundly influenced by computers and robots than it has been so far. And almost half said they thought the greatest scientific discovery over the next 50 years would have something to do with the brain. Christian Anfinsen of the National Institutes of Health, a 1972 winner in chemistry, said, however, he thought the greatest breakthrough coming would be in the field of techniques to produce or use energy. And David Baltimore, a 1975 winner in medicine, predicted the development of a ''cheap, safe source of energy.''

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