If the Physics Nobel went for a metaphysical theory weakly supported by data, the Chemistry Nobel went for strongly supported data that undermined a bad metaphysical theory. The two prizes could not have been more different than night and day.
First let’s try to understand the metaphysics that underpins chemistry, and its subtle message about materialist reductionism. (I”m a physicist, so I’m bound to get the nuance wrong since I don’t work in a chemistry but I had organic chem in college and a course on solid state physics taught by a crystallographer in grad school, and since the topic of the Nobel is crystallography, I thought at least I’d get the physics right). Let’s start with the history.
Now as the Medieval synthesis of Aristotle and Aquinas began to crumble in the Renaissance, the Greek atomism of Democritus and Epicurus began to gain a hearing. Long before physicists would believe in the metaphysical atom (which being unobservable remained a ideal, not a datum), the chemists were finding that chemical reactions had specific amounts: two parts hydrogen plus one part oxygen = water. Whether or not atoms existed, chemistry was most easily explained as the reaction of individual atoms. Later on, physicists found that the gas laws of Charles and Boyle could be best explained by atoms, Maxwell even found velocity distributions for these atoms, and Boltzmann demonstrated that statistics on these atoms could explain all of thermodynamics.
The metaphysics was clear–all of life was reducible to smaller units so that the macroscopic behavior was merely the accumulation of microscopic behavior.