Sunday, October 01, 2006

Nobel Hype 2006

The winners of the Nobel Prize in physics will be announced next tuesday. I don't have any firm prediction but I am willing to hear the ones from you!

In the field of astrophysics this prize was never awarded to its greatest figures: E. Hubble, the greatest observational astronomer of the last century who opened the whole fields of extragalactic astronomy and observational cosmology and Y. Zel'dovich who was the greatest astrophysicist of all times, is simply almost impossible to work in a field to which Zel'dovich didn't made a contribution: the theory of nuclear chain reactions, the physics of plasmas, black holes (he was one of the first to develop evidence of the "no hair" black holes, he also proposed them as the mechanism behind quasars), the evaporation of black holes, the production of monopoles in the early universe and many other contributions in other fields including chemistry and optics.

Of course there are many fields of physics with probable candidates (David Deutsch, Peter Shor or Anton Zeilinger,or the Sudbury neutrino experiment for example), I will only speculate on astrophysics. Ignoring the fact that the Nobel has eluded some of the best in the field I think that the inflationary trio (A. Guth, A. Linde and P. Steinhardt) has a very good chance of getting the prize. The more we study the CMB, the more consistent it seems with the inflationary scenario, despite that we lack a 100% confidence in it, although the vast majority of cosmologists consider the inflation as the correct answer, and that is also my own opinion.

In the observational field there is an obvious Nobel candidate: The two teams that discover the aceleration of the expansion of the universe (hands down the most important discovery of the last decade in all physics) and the COBE team for discovering anisotropies in the CMB. Dark matter also deserves a Nobel Prize but there are too many names associated with, altough V. Rubin is the most common and there is no doubt of the existence of dark matter, so she another solid candidate.

Play the game! I'd like to hear your suggestions.

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