By all rights, Douglas Prasher should have won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of a glowing jellyfish protein that is extensively used today in biomedical research. The prize went to three other scientists. He heard about it on the radio one day in 2006 as he got ready for his job as a courtesy van driver for a Toyota dealership in Huntsville, Ala.
“Prasher was flooded with disappointment” after hearing the Nobel announcement, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi writes in a fascinating new book called The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success. “Not so much for missing out on the prize. More because he felt his obscurity was his own fault. It wasn’t in his personality to thrive in the spotlight, and he wasn’t comfortable reaching out to the people who might have helped him.” He dropped out of academia after failing to get funding for his work—though not before selflessly sending his materials to two of the scientists who ended up sharing the Nobel.