So much fundamental work in chemistry had been carried out during the last two decades of the 19th century that, as stated by Westgren , "During the first few years the Academy was chiefly faced with merely deciding the order in which these scientists should be awarded the prize." For the first prize in 1901 the Academy had to consider 20 nominations, but no less than 11 of these named van't Hoff, who was also chosen by the Committee for Chemistry. van't Hoff had already during his thesis work in Utrecht in 1874 published his suggestion that the carbon atom has its four valences directed towards the corners of a regular tetrahedron, a concept which is the very foundation of modern organic chemistry. The Nobel Prize was, however, awarded for his later work on chemical kinetics and equilibria and on the osmotic pressure in solution, published in 1884 and 1886, when he held a professorship in Amsterdam. When he received the prize he had, however, left this for a position at Akademie der Wissenschaften in Berlin in 1896.
On human DNA, it would not have worked because the oligonucleotide would not have specifically bound to a single site. On a DNA as complex as human DNA it would have bound to hundreds or thousands of sites depending on the sequence involved and the conditions used. What I needed to make this work was some method of raising the relative concentration of the specific site of interest. What I needed was PCR, but I had not considered that possibility. I knew the difference numerically between five thousand base pairs as in a plasmid and three billion base pairs as in the human genome, but somehow it didn't strike me as sharply as it should have. My ignorance served me well. I kept on thinking about my experiment without realizing that it would never work. And it turned into PCR.