Archive for Sir Michael Berry

A Nobel Book

Posted in Science Politics, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2012 by telescoper

The announcement this morning of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology reminded me that tomorrow will see the announcement of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics. This is due to happen tomorrow morning at 11.45 CET (which I think is 10.45 BST) or thereabouts. It would be unseemly to speculate on the outcome, of course, so that’s what I’ll do.

Although the discovery of a scalar particle at the Large Hadron Collider that may well be the Higgs boson happened only recently, and is yet to be definitively proven to be the Higgs, the smart money has to be on an award relating to that, presumably to Peter Higgs. However, given that the award can go to up to three individuals, who else might earn a share? Gerald Guralnik, Tom Kibble and Carl Richard Hagen came up with the same idea about the same time as Higgs, but all four of them can’t win according to the rules. Answers to that little conundrum on a postcard…

But of course the Prize might go to something else altogether. An interesting bet would be Alain Aspect for his important work on experimental studies of quantum entanglement. Also with an outside chance is Sir Michael Berry for his brilliant work on the Geometric Phase.

That’s by no means an exhaustive list of runners and riders, but I have to get back to business now. I’d be interested to have further nominations via the comments box and will of course be getting an early night ahead of the expected phone call from Stockholm tomorrow morning…

Nobel Betting

Posted in Science Politics, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , on October 5, 2009 by telescoper

I’m reminded that the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physics will be announced tomorrow, on Tuesday 6th October. A recent article in the Times Higher suggested that British physicists might be in line for glory (based on a study of citation statistics). However, the Table they produced showed that their predictions haven’t really got a good track record so it might be unwise to bet too much on the outcome! This year’s predictions are at the top, with previous years underneath; the only successful prediction is highlighted in blue:


The problem I think is that it’s difficult to win the Nobel Prize for theoretical work unless confirmed by a definitive experiment, so much as I admire (Lord) Martin Rees – and would love to see a Nobel Prize going to astrophysics generally – I think I’d have to mark him down as an outsider. It would be absurd to give the prize to string theory, of course, as that makes no contact whatsoever with experiment or observation.

I think it would be particularly great if Sir Michael Berry won a share of the physics prize, but we’ll have to wait and see. The other British runner in the paddock is Sir John Pendry. While it would be excellent for British science to have a Nobel prize, what I think is best about the whole show is that it is one of the rare occasions that puts a spotlight on basic science, so it’s good for all of us (even us non-runners).

I think the panel made a bit of a bizarre decision last year and I hope there won’t be another steward’s enquiry this year to distract us from the chance to celebrate the achievements of the winner(s).

I’d be interested to hear any thoughts on other candidates through the comments box. No doubt there’ll be some reactions after the announcement too!