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It’s that time of year again – next week, the winners of this year’s round of Nobel prizes are due to be announced. We’re certainly getting pretty excited at Chemistry World HQ and, as usual, the predictions have been flying around.
For physics, the big question isn’t so much ‘what?’ as ‘who?’ will take home the prize this year. Most people seem to agree that the discovery of the Higgs boson is the strongest contender. But as there are a handful of theorists and experimental teams who were involved in its discovery – and a maximum of three can share the prize – who will be deemed worthy of the physics Nobel is anyone’s guess.
But what about the chemistry prize? As usual, Thomson Reuters have generated their list of predictions using most cited topics and authors. They do this every year and claim to have correctly predicted more Nobel prize winners than anyone else, having accurately forecast 27 winners over the last 11 years. I’m not so sure they’ll be right about the chemistry prize this time around though, as some of the innovations they’ve picked seem a little too recent. Alongside modular click chemistry and the Ames test for mutagenicity, they highlight DNA nanotechnology as a potential winner, and named none other than this year’s CW entrepreneur of the year Chad Mirkin as one of the leaders in this field. While the range of potential applications of DNA nanotech is huge, I think it’s still a little too early for this to be Nobel-worthy…but you never know!
A quick sweep of the chemistry blogosphere yields a more extensive list. Ashutosh Jogalekar at the Curious Wavefunction has highlighted several research areas deserving of the prize, and named the inventors of the lithium ion battery among his top picks. He suggests that as the prize was awarded to biochemists last year, it is perhaps more likely to recognise a straight chemistry field this time. He may well be right.
Ultimately it’s a wait-and-see job, and in the meantime there are plenty of ways to celebrate the chemistry Nobel countdown. Our features editor Neil will be joining Carmen Drahl and Lauren Wolf from C&EN and Chembark’s Paul Bracher for a Google+ Hangout (think multiway skype chat) to discuss the potential front runners tomorrow at 8pm UK time – tune in and join the discussion here. You can also watch Neil’s video interview with 2011 chemistry Nobel Dan Shechtman on the key ingredients for prizewinning success below. And of course, we’ll be sure to bring you the very latest next week when the winners are announced.
UPDATE: In something of a surprise decision, the 2013 Nobel prize in chemistry was awarded to Martin Karplus of Harvard University, US, Michael Levitt of Stanford University, US, and Arieh Warshel of the University of Southern California, US, for ‘the development of multi-scale models for complex chemical systems’. Karplus alone featured in Jogalekar’s predictions, but the entire field of computational chemistry doesn’t seem to have occurred to the prediction wizards at Thomson Reuters. You can read more about the decision and their work here.