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.