What if gravitational waves don’t win the Nobel prize?

Most predictions for the winners of this years Nobel prize for physics point to the biggest piece of science news we’ve had: gravitational waves. I’ll go out on a limb and say that I’m not convinced they will.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a great fan of team LIGO’s work, too. The discovery of gravitational waves was incredible, but so was the Higgs boson. LIGO is an astonishing feat of science and engineering, but so was the LHC. We expected to find gravitational waves as much (if not more) than we expected the boson. However, that Nobel prize was awarded only to Higgs and Englert, who formulated the theory. In the case of gravitational waves, it would be Einstein, who is ineligible being… you know… dead.

I firmly believe the LIGO team will get their gold: they opened a whole new window on the universe. As soon as we find something new in that window, I think, they will jump to the top of the list. That time will come, just not yet.

Who else can win if LIGO doesn’t? Thomson Reuters has an effective citation-based system. Other than LIGO people—suggests Marvin L. Cohen on one side, and Celso Grebogi, Edward Ott and James A. Yorke on the other (you can find the infographic here, and see they missed the medicine prize already). The first worked on a method to study semiconductor properties. The latter group worked on chaos theory. Should they win, we’ll go into more detail of what these discoveries are and mean on next Friday’s post.

Personally, my buck is somewhere else: I’m going with exoplanets.

Still, it’s all speculation. Nobel winners do science, unlike people that attempt these predictions.

Cover photo: CC0 nvodicka, via pixabay.com


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