2006 Nobel Prize for Physics

No, I don’t have any idea who will win this year, but the announcement will be a week from today, on Tuesday October 3. After my initial success in Nobel Prize prognostication, I’ve now retired from that game, but encourage others to play.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

76 Responses to 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics

  1. Kea says:

    I feel there is a Nobel Prize in the WMAP evidence. Of course, the theory must match it accurately. Like Bee, I wonder who the best candidate is?

  2. A.J. says:


    I agree that it’s weird that Nambu & Goldstone should be made to wait till after the discovery of a Higgs boson. But I can’t think of anything else the Nobel committee could be waiting for. Perhaps they prefer to give the prize out for less abstract achievements..?

  3. JoAnne says:

    Kobayashi and Maskawa, for their prediction of the 3rd generation (before it was observed) as a means of explaining the observation of CP violation.

  4. Shantanu says:

    One more possibility which no one has pointed out.
    Irwin Shapiro, Pound and Rebka (for proposing & measuring
    “shapiro delay” and gravitational redshift of photon which
    confirmed GR.)

  5. A says:

    answering to Dorigo: we agree that microvertex is an important technology. But my point was different. An analogy with leptons might clarify it: somebody first detected that nu_tau exist, and somebody discovered their oscillations: who got the Nobel prize?

  6. Physiker says:


    Parisi is one of the fathers of the replica symmetry breaking idea which is still contentious. Edwards-Anderson proposed the replica trick for the treatment of disordered systems which is something more fundamental and more widely accepted (not without critique, though). Edwards’ contribution to physics is broader. Together with de Gennes, he transformed into physics what used to be a kind of “stamp collecting” (the study of polymers, membranes, interfaces, etc.).

    Someone mentioned granular matter. We still don’t have any breakthough of Nobel caliber there, but Edwards’ mark in the major developments in the area is clear.

  7. anon. says:

    David Cobden wrote:

    “I don’t think the prize has ever gone to a theory that was not already experimentally verified to a very high degree, such that it was essentially completely uncontroversial within the physics community. (Is asymptotic freedom an exception?)”

    Asymptotic freedom is definitely not an exception. In fact there were good experimental reasons for wanting it to be true before it was theoretically discovered, and the experimental evidence has continually improved in the past 30 years. In fact, Bjorken had proposed a related property called “scaling,” which Feynman interpreted in terms of “partons” (small pointlike constituents of hardons). This idea was confirmed experimentally by deep inelastic scattering experiments at SLAC, a few years before asymptotic freedom. These ideas pointed to flaws in the “dual resonance” (i.e. string theory) model of strong interactions. So when asymptotic freedom was found, it was accepted fairly quickly because there was already good experimental evidence.

  8. dir says:

    why not adler et al. for their work on the anomaly?

  9. Count Iblis says:

    A. Belavin, A. Polyakov and A. Zamolodchikov

  10. Peter Orland says:

    Adler and Jackiw won’t get the Nobel because anomalies are mainly used as a guideling for model building. By themselves, anomalies predict nothing. It does help solve the U(1) problem in QCD, but only says why the eta and eta-prime are heavy. There is no way to use the anomaly to compute their masses.

    Belavin et. al. won’t get it. Most conformal field theories are testable by computer, not by nature, except a few which are fixed points of models which are solvable anyway.

    Baxter and co. won’t get the prize because their work is too specialized to specific theoretical models. Special cases of the 8-vertex model (besides the Ising model) can be realized (I think helium adsorbed onto graphite is well described by the hard hexagon model). This work is not general enough yet.

    Anyway, any speculation that the above could win is wishful thinking on the part of theorists.

    People can’t get the prize for great mathematical ideas alone, even
    if somewhat relevant experimentally. A prizeworthy idea has to solve a crisis in the field or make a stunning experimental prediction.

    Perhaps Nambu and Goldstone probably won’t get it for chiral symmetry breaking because Feza Guersey, who is the third person responsible for the idea (he invented the sigma model) is no longer living.

    Someone said that the dark energy discover is not yet well established because the type 1a supernova candles can’t be calculated precisely theoretically. This was true some years ago,
    but I thought they were now better understood (a stellar astrophysicist would know better). There is also other data, found by completely different means which confirms dark energy, as I understand it. Perhaps it won’t get the Nobel this year, but this work seems prizeworthy.

  11. Haelfix says:

    Another shout for the COBE experimentalist teams, they’re shoe ins for a noble prize at some point (though it might have to wait till Planck).

    Vera also will get it eventually, but still too early IMO.

    It would be a scandal if Guth and Linde got a prize for inflation, as its an idea and not a specific model (and the original model was falsified). One day in the year 2300 they very well might still have their names on it, but I very much doubt they’ll ever have a Nobel in their lifetime. I can think of several people more deserving for ‘accepted theories but not a specific model’ off the top of my head, including Adler/Jackiw and Hawking/Penrose.

    Kobayashi and Maskawa should have received a Nobel a long time ago, but as usual there is some confusion there, so they’re perenial contenders.

    I suspect the Nobel will be outside Astrophysics and Particle physics this year again so that ends my 2cents.

  12. A says:

    actually, only very recent B-physics experiments could test if the single Kobayashi Maskawa phase accounts for more than one CP-violating process.
    As the result was yes (some anomalies present in past years data largely disappeared), as these experiments are almost completed, as more experimental tests would need many more years, I dare telling omedetoo gozaimasu for the Nobel prize that Kobayashi-Maskawa will get within 3 years.

  13. Ben oit says:

    Anatole Abragam and Richard Geller for their pioneering works on Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Electron Cyclotron Resonance and their application to Medecine.

    Too much criticisms were made against Physics. It has become crucial that people also see that fundamental works also save lives every day !

  14. Paul says:

    I heard some rumor that the prize will be awarded for research in biophysicists; in particular the names of Carlos Bustamante from Berkley (he is apparently a pioneer in single-molecule visualization) and Hermann Gaub from Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich have been mentioned.

  15. biophysicist says:

    Well if Paul is right I (as my name uhh no doubt indicates) would be pretty ecstatic. It’s probably still a little early for biophysics to be awarded physics Nobels, but that day will come (and lest we forget that biophysicists have won biology Nobels and even the Dirac medal already). Also Dr. Bustamante would be totally deserving – his work is inspirational.

  16. Thomas Larsson says:

    My wife thinks that the medicine prize is cool. One of her former students is a postdoc in Fire’s group.

  17. Hi folks – this just in- The Nobel prize for physics goes to Snoot and Mather for their work on the cosmic microwave background

  18. MathPhys says:

    Years ago, I tried to read Smoot’s book “Wrinkles in Time” but found it too boring. Maybe I should try again.

  19. TTT says:

    I cannot believe it. Even schoolkids know that the Russians disovered anisotropy several months earlier using their “Relict” satellite.

    So here goes another BS Nobel. What a waste!!:-)

  20. Checkmate says:


    Please provide references for your assertions!

  21. Who says:

    COBE is the single most widereaching bunch of results since a long ways back—it is superNobel class.

    that oval map of the CMB mottled blue and red for temperature was more ikonic of discovery than the first images of earth from space

    it has become the face of the universe

    when Smoot and the other COBE team presented the perfect fit of the all-sky spectrum to a perfect Planck blackbody for the first time to an international body of astronomers—-when they showed that slide—there was a standing ovation.

    when you have a slide of the blackbody curve with your data superimposed, and it gets the whole IAU to give a standing ovation, it is something.

    I only mention this because some misguided person said “BS nobel”.
    On the contrary giving Nobel for mapping CMB validates Nobel and is overdue.

    simply detecting anisotropy was done using U2 airplane years before COBE, we are not talking about “discovering anisotropy”

    please correct me if I have misremembered some facts here, am rushed and dont have time to check

  22. LDM says:


    Good post.

  23. TTT says:

    I’m retracting my criticism.
    Was confused by:


    Astronomy Letters,
    Volume 18, 1992, Issue 5
    Anisotropy of the microwave background radiation
    I.A.Strukov, A.A.Bryukhanov, D.P.Skulachev, and M.V.Sazhin (pp.387-395)

  24. Relativist says:

    The interesting thing is that they excluded the theorists who first predicted the broad nature of the anisotropy patterns – R K Sachs and A M Wolfe, Ap J (1967).

  25. Relativist says:

    p.s. – Sachs and Wolfe did not predict the accoustic peaks in the power spectrum, but then COBE did not observe those peaks (its resolutin was too low). The peaks were confirmed by later observations (BOOMERANG, WMAP in particular), which will surely now be in the line for a Nobel prize. And again the theorists who predicted those peaks before they were observed will probably get left out. But that was a triumph of cosmological theoretical prediction, confirmed by extraordinary delicate observations.

Comments are closed.