2005 Physics Nobel Prize

After my initial success last year, I’ve retired from the business of predicting who will get Nobel prizes. This year’s physics prize will be announced in less than two weeks, on Tuesday, October 4. Anyone else want to make a prediction?

Last year there was a Nobel Prize Market, but it doesn’t seem to be in operation this year.

For the last few years Thomson Scientific has been issuing Nobel prize predictions based on citation counts. They’re not doing very well in physics, basically because every year they predict it will be Green, Schwarz and Witten. This year’s prediction is here. In 2003 they rather petulantly commented:

Most observers believe the Nobel Prize will not be awarded for theoretical work. If, however, citations reflect real influence and prizes ought to be awarded for influential work, the Nobel Committee should consider recognizing string theory and M theory, whose leading figures have been Green and Schwarz, the pioneers, and Witten, who extended their work. Witten, it should be noted, is the most-cited physicist of last two decades.

Their idea that the Nobel prize is not awarded for theoretical work is kind of strange, and wrong. Last year’s award was to theorists. The people at Thomson seem to not be able to tell the difference between theoretical work that is confirmed by experiment, and work which isn’t. So far the Nobel committee seems to be able to make that distinction, and doesn’t just count citations. Presumably this will still hold true for this year. While I won’t predict who will get the prize, I will predict that Green and Schwarz won’t get it, and if Witten does, it won’t be for his work on string or M-theory.

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56 Responses to 2005 Physics Nobel Prize

  1. Muthiah says:

    I think Benoit Mandelbrot, deserves a Nobel prize for his work on fractals?
    Im not sure.

  2. Bumerang says:

    When you talk about Chaos theory, you completely forget russian school. Arnold, Sinai and Chirikov, for example.
    Unfortunately, the Chaos theory does not have a strong power for implementations.

  3. James says:

    My predictions:
    Shuji Nakamura and Yoshinori Tokura for diodes and semiconductors resp.
    Exo planet searches — Marcy and Butler

    Dont expect Guth to win — his intial inflationary proposal was flawed (but he realised this) and had to be modifed be Linde and Steinhart. Also, beyond the superfical level, inflation makes predictions, e.g. a flat universe, in terms of probabilities, which mind you are exponentially close to 1 or 0. It is not a “confirmed” theory as some of you suggest above, merely an exciting theoretical idea. I believe the theory is correct from a phemonological prespective, but it is far from a finished theory, and the mechanisms that drives inflation in the very early universe is unknown.

    In line with the usual criteria Guth and co will not be awarded a nobel.

    As many of you said above, string theory will not be awarded a nobel in the near future. Until the theory can be understood at a level to make firm experimental predictions, and those predictions tested, string theorists will have to wait.



  4. Jimbo says:

    If anybody who has worked on superstring/M-theory gets it, then a terrible & irrevokable precedent has been set, namely the negation of the 3 centuries-old covenant with the scientific method for establishing the veracity of physical theory thru observation.
    However, if this radical leap `must’ be made, it should clearly go to Hawking, for two obvious reasons. One, the universal respect & awe in which his work is held, and two, the tragedy the world of physics will have to live with, if we wake up one morning & find that ALS has finally claimed Stephen’s life, without him getting the Nobel prize he so truly deserves.

  5. Pingback: Not Even Wrong » Blog Archive » Nobel Prize Announced

  6. OJP says:

    I think actually hongbaozhang actually guessed correctly (at least the field). See Sept. 22 entry.


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