Getting Ready for the 2019 Nobel Prizes
(Inside Science) -- It's almost time for the world of science to turn its eyes to Sweden for the announcements of the winners of the 2019 Nobel Prizes in physiology or medicine, physics, and chemistry, and the excitement and speculation are building. On Oct. 7, Inside Science will distribute the first of several news stories related to this year's science Nobel Prizes. We will publish stories summarizing the science behind each prize soon after each announcement, followed by additional stories related to the prizes throughout the week. We've compiled all of our Nobel Prize-related coverage here.
And we've already posted two stories as we prepare for next week. In The Face of the Average Science Nobel Prize Winner, Yuen Yiu used an online tool to make a composite visage for winners of each of the three prizes that we'll be covering. Take a look to see the (lack of) variation. In Nine Nobel Prize Predictions for 2019, our staff highlights three top contenders in each category -- from optogenetics, a light-based technique used to improve our understanding of the brain, to the detection of planets beyond our solar system.
The festivities begin before dawn if you're in the U.S. You can livestream the announcements from Sweden at nobelprize.org.
Here's when the prizes will be announced:
The Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine: Monday, Oct. 7, 5:30 a.m. Eastern Time at the earliest.
The Nobel Prize in physics: Tuesday, Oct. 8, 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time at the earliest.
The Nobel Prize in chemistry: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time at the earliest.
In addition to recognition, the new winners, called Nobel laureates, will each be awarded a Nobel medal and prize money. This year, the award includes 9 million Swedish krona (more than $900,000) per prize, to be split among as many as three winners. The three-person-per prize limit often causes controversy, since much of modern science is massively collaborative. The limit could become particularly prominent if one of the committees chooses to recognize the inventors of the gene editing technology CRISPR, which has been the subject of a patent lawsuit.
Predictions and Commentary
Inside Science staff highlighted three top contenders for each prize in our predictions story:
Physiology or Medicine:
Genes for Breast Cancer
Curing Hepatitis C
Lighting Up the Brain (optogenetics)
Detecting Exoplanets and Seeing Blackholes
Two New Classes of Superconductors
Stacking Chemical Building Blocks to Make New Materials
Chemistry of the Stars
Powerful Tools to Study DNA
Another approach to predictions
Is there an objective way to identify the science that is most worthy of an award? Clarivate Analytics thinks so. This year, they've again analyzed academic citations -- from more than 34,000 sources -- to issue a list of three different discoveries that could be recognized with each prize. They call the scientists behind these discoveries "citation laureates."
For physiology or medicine, this year's list highlights developments in a signaling pathway tied to stem cells and cancer, insights into T-cells and the immune system, and the development of optogenetics (which we included in our rundown of top contenders). For physics, they look to quantum computation and cryptography, research on 2D nanomaterials, work on a computational method called density functional theory that helps scientists understand how materials behave. Finally, for chemistry, their citation analysis points to important insights in synthetic organic chemistry, the development of the Southern blot method of DNA sequencing, and a separate strain of research that led to the protein and DNA sequencing efforts that made mapping the human genome possible.
And here's one more cool project to mention: Our colleagues at Physics Today examined the scientific papers behind past Nobel Prizes in physics. Building from data published earlier this year, Greg Stasiewicz and Andrew Grant showed how citation rates for groundbreaking research has changed over the decades. Some papers that are closely related to prize-winning work received many thousands of citations from other scientists. Others have received only dozens in total.
For the latest on this year's prizes, we hope you’ll visit Inside Science on Monday morning and throughout the week. Our coverage begins bright and early -- or even a bit before!
For more of Inside Science's coverage of the 2019 Nobel Prizes in physiology or medicine, physics, and chemistry, please visit https://www.insidescience.org/nobel-coverage/2019.