Getting Ready for the 2020 Nobel Prizes
Abigail Malate, Staff Illustrator
Copyright American Institute of Physics
(Inside Science) -- Next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Inside Science staff will rise early in the morning to tune into the webcasts announcing the winners of the 2020 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, physics and chemistry. 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 are compiling all of our Nobel Prize-related coverage here.
And we've already posted two stories as we prepare for next week. In How Nobel-Winning Research is Helping Battle Covid-19, staff writer Nala Rogers looks at how Nobel Prize-winning research established basic knowledge that’s helping scientists understand and treat Covid-19. In Nine Nobel Prize Predictions for 2020, our staff highlights three top contenders in each category -- from the study of the proteins that flag infected cells to the epic-sounding, controversial concept of quantum supremacy in computing. And our story from last year about the average visage of a Nobel Prize winner is as relevant as ever today. Last year’s all male, mostly white science laureates didn't change the trends much.
When the winners are announced, we will post alerts on Twitter and Facebook, follow up with links to our news stories and also share additional information about the science behind the prizes each day they are announced.
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. 5, 5:30 a.m. Eastern Time at the earliest.
The Nobel Prize in physics: Tuesday, Oct. 6, 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time at the earliest.
The Nobel Prize in chemistry: Wednesday, Oct. 7, 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 10 million Swedish krona (a bit more than $1,100,000) 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 dispute.
Predictions and Commentary
Inside Science writers mostly relied on our intuitions and the opinions of experts to make our predictions this year, covering the medicine, physics and chemistry prizes. But 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 thousands of sources -- to issue a list of three different discoveries that could be recognized with each science prize. They call the scientists behind these discoveries "citation laureates."
For physiology or medicine, they highlight findings that are helping doctors understand and treat cancer and neurological conditions, as well as research about how the immune system targets infected cells, which we also highlighted in our predictions. For physics, they look to nonlinear systems, nanotubes made of boron and carbon, and fundamental studies of the cosmos that include the formation and evolution of galaxies. Finally, for chemistry, their citation analysis points to important insights in nanocrystals, organometallic chemistry and bio-inspired supramolecular chemistry.
For further reading that looks for other clues such as the subdisciplines that may be due for recognition, look to this story in Stat News, writings from Chemistry World (which highlights the same gene editing technology CRISPR that we have highlighted in the past) and Physics World (which points out that maybe the experimental physicists who helped spot the Higgs Boson deserve their own prize). We won't know who had the best predictions until next week.
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 2020 Nobel Prizes in physiology or medicine, physics and chemistry, please visit https://www.insidescience.org/nobel-coverage/2020.