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Getting Ready for the 2017 Nobel Prizes

Getting Ready for the 2017 Nobel Prizes

Beginning early Monday morning, Inside Science will cover the discoveries behind three of the most anticipated science prizes of the year.

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A gold medal sits atop a burgundy background, surrounded by waving ribbons. The ribbon atop the medal says Nobel Prize.
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Abigail Malate, Staff Illustrator

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Copyright American Institute of Physics (reprinting information

Friday, September 29, 2017 - 16:15

Chris Gorski, Editor

(Inside Science) -- It’s almost time to announce the winners of the 2017 Nobel Prizes, and excitement and speculation are building. On Oct. 2, Inside Science will distribute the first of several news stories about this year's medicine, physics and chemistry Nobel Prizes. We will send brief summaries soon after the prize announcements, followed by more comprehensive stories later in the morning. We will also post additional information and multimedia about the prizes on our Twitter account and Facebook page each day.

If you're up early in the U.S., you can livestream the proceedings from Sweden at nobelprize.org. For lucky Europeans, the announcements are around midday.

Throughout the week, return to this link to find new additions to Inside Science's coverage of the 2017 Nobel Prizes.

In addition to recognition, the new Nobel Laureates will also take home a bit more money than in 2016, as the award has been increased by about 12 percent to 9 million Swedish Krona ($1.1 million). The amount is shared by as many as three winners for each prize.

Schedule

Monday, Oct. 2: The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Tuesday, Oct. 3: The Nobel Prize in Physics
Wednesday, Oct. 4: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Predictions

When it comes to predicting the winners, you could use your gut, or attempt to develop objective ways to identify the most influential and award-worthy science. Last year, when Thomson Reuters analyzed academic citations, the technique predicted one of the chemistry winners, J. Fraser Stoddart. This year Clarivate Analytics used the same technique to issue a list of "citation laureates."

Their predictions highlight three different discoveries that could be recognized with each prize. Intriguingly, they leave out two advances widely viewed as top contenders: the detection of gravitational waves for physics and the development of the gene editing technique known as CRISPR for chemistry. But they do highlight a collection of landmark research.

For the physiology or medicine prize they point to the discovery of a signaling pathway that has led to new treatments for cancer, diabetes and autoimmune disease; a statistical brain imaging technique that has helped refine the understanding of schizophrenia; and the identification of a type of herpesvirus that can cause cancer in people with HIV and AIDS. For physics, the company points to the development of nanoscale carbon-based electronics, advances in the mathematical and physical understanding of nonlinear and chaotic systems, and contributions that have helped astronomers comprehend the origin and development of the universe. For chemistry, the predictions highlight a carbon-bond process called C-H functionalization; the development of sustainable means of accelerating chemical reactions; and the development of perovskite solar cells.

For medicine, STAT News highlighted several worthy candidates in cancer research, immunology and brain imaging, among others.

For chemistry, the trendy choice is CRISPR, although no one knows if the Nobel committee wants to weigh in while a patent dispute plays out in U.S. courts.

As in 2016, the discovery of gravitational waves is again a favorite, according to many prognosticators of the physics prize. Just this week, scientists announced that an instrument called VIRGO, located near Pisa, Italy, detected gravitational waves for the first time. The waves were also detected in the U.S. at the LIGO detectors in Louisiana and Washington. The new announcement detailed the first simultaneous detection at three separate locations.

Info and Background

Speaking of gravitational waves, here are Inside Science's top stories on the subject:

Gravitational Waves Spotted, Confirming Einstein's Ripples In Spacetime

How To Kill A Gravitational Wave

For Some, Einstein's Space-Time Ripples Have Yet To Break Their Silence   

Third Detection of Gravitational Waves Confirmed

Nobel Prizes in physiology or medicine, physics, and chemistry can be awarded to no more than three individuals. This often produces controversy, since modern science is very much a collaborative endeavor that relies on the contributions of many people -- an acutely sensitive issue for both gravitational waves and CRISPR.

For a look at the more distant past, please read the series that our friends at Physics Today have produced, analyzing 66 years of nominees for the physics prize. The series includes visualizations, analysis and a profile of the most prolific nominator, 1925 laureate James Franck. Don't expect to read about this year's nominees, however. The Nobel organization keeps information about nominations secret for at least 50 years.

We hope you’ll visit our site on Monday morning. Our coverage begins bright and early!

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Chris Gorski

Chris Gorski is an Editor for Inside Science and runs the Sports beat. Follow him on twitter at @c_gorski.