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Who will win the 2008 Nobel prize?

(Courtesy: Nobel Foundation).

By Hamish Johnston

The 2008 Nobel Prize for Physics is set to be announced at 10.45am BST on Tuesday 7 October and we are starting to get excited here at Physics World about who will scoop this year’s gong.

Here are a few of our picks…

News Editor Michael Banks is putting his money on Daniel Kleppner at MIT for inventing the hydrogen maser.

Reporter Jon Cartwright is tipping Berkeley’s Saul Perlmutter and Brian Schmidt at the Australian National University for their discovery that the universe’s rate of expansion is increasing…leading to the concept of dark energy.

Reviews and Careers Editor Margaret Harris is supporting MIT’s Alan Guth and Andrei Linde at Stanford University for their work on inflation.

Editor Matin Durrani has as his dark horse Chapman University’s Yakir Aharanov for the Aharanov-Bohm effect and Michael Berry at the University of Bristol for the Berry phase — the AB effect being related to the Berry phase.

And what about me? Well, after spending Tuesday at the “Pendry Fest”, I’m going for John Pendry of Imperial College and Duke University’s David Smith for their prediction and discovery of negative refraction.

I also asked a few “friends of” for their predictions.

New Journal of Physics publisher Tim Smith has two favourites: One being John Pendry and the other Roger Penrose at Oxford University and Cambridge’s Stephen Hawking for their contributions to general relativity theory and cosmology.

Finally, former Physics World editor Peter Rodgers — who successfully predicted last year’s prize — is tipping Atsuto Suzuki from Japan’s SuperKamiokande experiment and Art MacDonald from SNO in Canada for their work on neutrino oscillations.

So, who do you think will win this year?

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  1. Neutrino oscillations stands out for me as a definite – some year soon if not this one. It was a v important discovery in particle physics at a time not much was happening..Regards

  2. Jimbo

    Some good candidates here, but Penrose/Hawking tragically still have no experimental evidence on their side, and the jury is still out on inflation as regards Guth/Linde.
    Aharonov/Bohm/Berry is solidly established, but I don’t think there’s ever been a post-humous physics nobel, and there’s no way Bohm can be left out !
    I would guess it to be a toss-up between Permutter/Schmidt’s discovery of cosmic acceleration OR Pendry/Smith’s discovery & prediction of negative refraction.

  3. Nick Evanson

    Pendry and Smith get my vote – prediction followed by discovery is essentially what physics (and science) is all about, although Perlmutter and Schmidt’s discovery is a very close second: it’s one of those nice “Whoa! *That* wasn’t expected!” findings that occur far too infrequently.

  4. B S Chandrasekhar

    I wish we could get away from the culture of Prizes, and do physics because it is worth doing and is fun. I do not recall any prize won by Galileo, Newton, or Maxwell. Each year’s Nobel Prize raises questions about the procedures and outcome. The result is joy for the anointed and unhappiness for many. Perhaps this year will mark a first, and no Prize will be awarded for none deserved it. Such a result is not unknown in music competitions.

  5. Jose Luis Herrera

    I would do my bet in the area of chaos theory. What about Harry Swiney and all his contributions to this fascinating and new research area?

  6. 1. Anton Zeilinger
    2. Scientists from GSI, Dubna and Lawrence Livermore for the new elements.

  7. Adler Santos

    Atsuto Suzuki all-in.
    But every person mentioned here is brilliant. Goodluck to all of them!

  8. Well done B S Chandrasekhar, I agree entirely. I think Nobel prizes in particular have quite a distorting effect on science – precisely because they are so well known, and there are so few of them. As the only game in town, it almost certainly does have a negative effect on the first rank scientists who don’t recieve one.
    However, I think that one answer might be more international prizes , not less (like in classical music)- or even Booker-like nominations like in literature!

  9. phil

    I hope its Hawking, logically with Penrose. I think they should get it in spite of the lack of experimantal evidence!

  10. phil

    Its late! Maybe a tight vote!


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