Any Predictions for Nobel Prizes?

The Nobel prize awards are just a couple of weeks away, so this is as good a time as any to speculate about who will be this years Science laureates. Thomson-Reuters make an attempt to second guess the committee each year based on citations. This has not often turned out well and some predictions in previous years did not even fit the usual profile of a Nobel winning discovery, but this year they are looking more on the ball.

In physics (which is the only subject I know enough about to have an opinion) they are suggesting prizes for dark energy, WMAP or surface plasmon photonics. I don’t know about the photonics but it may be too soon for its potential to be realised, and I think the prize will go to fundamental physics this year. A prize for WMAP would seem too close to the prize for COBE in 2005, so I am putting dark energy as favourite this year. Saul Perlmutter, Adam Riess and Brian Schmidt are the prime candidates in this field. I don’t think it matters if you think that dark energy has not been proven well enough, because this would be an observational prize and they certainly observed something significant.

One other possibility would be a prize for exoplanets. Campbell, Walker and Yang were the first to say they had found planets around other stars and be confirmed as correct, though it took 14 years before everyone was convinced. Wolszczan and Frail made a better discovery that was confirmed sooner even if the original announcement four years was later than Campbell, Walker and Yang. This would pose a dilemma for the Nobel committee.

Anybody have any other suggestions? What about Chemistry, Medicine and Economics? These are very hard to predict but one technique is to look at what other prizes people have won. Some prizes are good indicators of potential Nobel laureates and Wikipedia makes it easy to find them.

Update: Results are now out  for a poll asking who will win the physics price. The choices were all very plausible so now we just have to wait and see what the committiee comes up with in a few days.


8 Responses to Any Predictions for Nobel Prizes?

  1. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    In medicine, or biology-physiology, I think the biggest development in the last 10 years has been with non-coding RNA, or so called snRNAs. These are important is the 60s structure of ribosomes. These snRNAs have related structures with trans-RNAs and cis-RNAs which can also turn on and off coding. There are a number of very recent results which link these switches to non-coding RNA, where various SNPs are now linked to various cancers. There are a lot of people with their hands in the till, so it is hard to choose who might get it.

    As for economics, it should go to Sarah Palin, for her stellar performance in explaining her economic policy during the 2008 debates — parodied by Tina Fay on Saturday Night Live. :-) Then the Nobel Committee should announce this is the final prize for economics, given the entire field is fundamentally worthless. It also has its far more evil twin Frankenstein monster called politics — which deserves nothing other than Bronx cheers.

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      Yes, the economics prize can easily get political, as can the literature prize. And as for the peace prize…

      Let’s stick to Physics, Chemistry and Medicine then.

  2. Ulla says:

    There should be a nomination list.

  3. Kea says:

    Hawking radiation (in the lab, not for black holes) has recently been confirmed by two different experiments … but I guess he’ll have to wait until next year.

    • ervin goldfain says:

      In my opinion, it remains to be confirmed if the excess of photons detected in these experiments are not due to nonlinear optics effects in media that exhibit an intensity dependent index of refraction. In particular, three-wave interaction in nonlinear media are known to create optical parameter amplification and second harmonic generation. These phenomena may be erroneously attributed to the pseudo-Hawking radiation.

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