The only perspective I can offer on the news is the Wuxi perspective. The first student I told the news to, immediately asked "What for?". It was a hard question for me to answer. Even if she had the fluency of a native speaker I couldn't have answered the question.
I had thought to make a mock short list of potential Nobel Prize Winners for 2009 based on last year's selection of Al Gore, but I never got around to it. I wonder if I would have thought to put Obama on the list.