Nobel Prize for Physics Matters

I’ve been a bit tied up writing lecture notes and participating in telecons today, so I’ve just got time for a little post to mention that tomorrow morning (October 2nd 2018) will see the announcement of this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics.

I do, of course, already have a Nobel Prize of my own, dating from 2006, when I was lucky enough to attend the prize-giving ceremony and banquet.

I was, however, a guest of the Nobel Foundation rather than a prizewinner, so my medal is made of chocolate rather than gold. Still, it was a very nice weekend!

I have no idea who will win the Physics Nobel Prize tomorrow. If you have any suggestions please put then forward through the comments box.

I’d say there’s an outside chance that there might be an award for the discovery of exoplanets, as that has certainly altered humanity’s perception of its place in the Universe. It’s by no means obvious to me who should win it, however. Possibilities are Possible winners include Didier Queloz, Aleksander Wolszczan, Dale Frail, and Michel Mayor, but which? It may also be too soon after the gravitational waves prize last year. Perhaps it’s time for something less exotic this year? To find out you’ll have to wait for the announcement, around about 10.45 (UK/Irish time) tomorrow morning.

Anyway, for the record, I’ll reiterate my opinion that while the Nobel Prize is flawed in many ways, particularly because it no longer really reflects how physics research is done, it does at least have the effect of getting people talking about physics. Surely that at least is a good thing?

UPDATE: And the winner is…

One half to Arthur Askey Ashkin, and the other half jointly to Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland, for “groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics.”

So there are you are. The rumours were, as usual, completely wrong.

Oh, and Donna Strickland is the first woman to win the physics Nobel since Maria Goeppert-Mayer in 1963. Congratulations to her, and indeed to all this year’s winners!

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19 Responses to “Nobel Prize for Physics Matters”

  1. Berry and Aharanov?

  2. David Pendlebury Says:

    Sajeev John and Eli Yablonovitch for their invention and development of photonic band gap materials?

  3. laboussoleestmonpays Says:

    2018 Physics Nobel Prize could celebrate progress made since 1948 (cf Shannon Entropy) to deepen our understanding of the physical nature of information thanks to quantum physics rewarding leading contributors like Wojciech Zurek, Anton Zeilinger, William Wootters, Charles Henry Bennett, Alain Aspect…
    Of course, Berry and Aharanov deserve it too and they would fit to the motivated list above I think.
    But I am afraid Berry as a remarkable mathematical physicist is probably tainted with too much mathematics and Aharanov may have been too much involved in the un[finished,settled] issue of quantum interpretations to recieve this particular prize.

  4. telescoper Says:

    There’s a lot of rumours about Aspect & Zeilinger, for work on quantum entanglement…

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      They’re false. It has just been awarded “for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics” with one half to Arthur Ashkin and the other half jointly to Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland.

      • telescoper Says:

        I know, I have updated the post appropriately…

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Askin is 96. Is he the oldest person ever to receive a Nobel, in physics or in anything?

      • telescoper Says:

        I hadn’t realized that Donna Strickland isn’t yet a full Professor. Something tells me she might get fast-tracked now…

      • “I hadn’t realized that Donna Strickland isn’t yet a full Professor. Something tells me she might get fast-tracked now…”

        Probably. Some pundits have pointed this out with a shock/horror attitude. Thing is, those same pundits usually complain that the Prize goes to old fogeys who have been acknowledged enough anyway and demand that it be given to younger, promising researchers, especially women. 😐 Whatever the committee decides, someone will criticize it.

        I think Adam Riess didn’t even have a permanent job when he was awarded the Prize.

  5. Ashkin is by some margin the oldest ever Nobel recipient. At 17, Malala Yousafzei is by some margin the youngest.

    • Right. William Lawrence Bragg (son of William Henry, with whom he shared the prize) was, I believe, the youngest recipient (at 25) for Physics.

      • Yes I think he is the second youngest overall. Quite a lot of the recipients for physics in the early part of the 20th century were youngish, in their 30s (W.L. Bragg, Heisenberg, Dirac, Anderson, Mössbauer).

      • telescoper Says:

        The second youngest in Physics is TD Lee of Lee & Yang.

  6. Anton Garrett Says:

    Chemistry today. Will it be a biology-oriented or a physics-oriented year?

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