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What breakthrough should be awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics?

Facebook poll

By Hamish Johnston

Bright and early on the morning of Tuesday 9 October, a small group of physicists will meet in Stockholm to make the final decision about who will win the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics.

While I have no way of knowing, I’m hoping that the discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider will be on the table. I know that there are many good reasons why Higgs hunters won’t bag the prize this year: the discovery came after nominations were closed; it would be too difficult to decide which individuals should share the prize; and physicists are still not 100% certain that the particle discovered at the LHC is the same boson that was first predicted in 1964.

However, my understanding is that the committee could cast aside the various historical conventions conspiring against a Higgs prize, and award the Nobel to those responsible for what surely is the most important physics breakthrough so far of the 21st century.

That’s my hope, now what about you?

In this week’s Facebook poll we ask:

What breakthrough should be awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics?

Discovery of the Higgs boson
Inflationary cosmology
Discovery of exoplanets
Aharonov–Bohm effect/Berry phase
Discovery of neutrino mass
Invention of the LED laser
Invisibility/transformation optics
Slow light/electromagnetically induced transparency
First experimental test of Bell’s theorem

Have your say by visiting our Facebook page, and please feel free to explain your response – or suggest another Nobel prediction – by posting a comment below the poll.

Last week we asked “Physicists in Japan have discovered element 113. What should they call it?” Your favourite name was “nishinium”, with 37% of respondents in favour of honouring the Japanese nuclear-physics pioneer Yoshio Nishina.

Several people asked why we included “japonium” instead of “nipponium” – pointing out that Nippon is the transliteration preferred by the Japanese. Japonium is actually a name put forward by physicists at RIKEN, though I’m not sure why they have chosen the French spelling.

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