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Nobel for the Higgs is the people’s choice

By Hamish Johnston

Our Facebook followers have spoken – when I last checked, about 63% of respondents to last week’s poll believe that scientists involved in the discovery of the Higgs boson should share the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics.

I agree. The Nobel committee should reward the fantastic work done by those who built the Large Hadron Collider and those who designed and ran the ATLAS and CMS experiments while the discovery is fresh in the minds of the public. A public, I should add, who will be left scratching their heads if and when a breakthrough made 30 years ago trumps the Higgs and bags the Nobel.

Some of you may be shouting “But they don’t yet know if it is the Higgs” at your screen. I would argue that the act of building such a colossal facility, getting it to work, analysing vast quantities of data, and finding something, is worthy of a Nobel – regardless of what that something is.

But alas, I don’t think that a Higgs-related prize with come this year – it’s likely to be a shoe-in for 2013, when we will have a much clearer idea of what has been found at the LHC.

So what other topics have our readers tipped for the prize? Runner-up in our poll with 9% is a Nobel related to the first experimental test of Bell’s theorem. Because this pioneering work – done in 1981 by Alain Aspect and others – marks the beginning of the burgeoning experimental field of quantum information, I’d say it’s a frontrunner for tomorrow’s prize.

Just behind at 8% is the discovery of neutrino mass, which could see my fellow Canadian Art McDonald making the trip to Stockholm.

The prize will be announced tomorrow at 10:30 BST, so stay tuned to for comprehensive coverage of the 2012 physics Nobel.

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