LIGO: Sample nomination letter for Nobel Prize

Folks, the Nobel-for-LIGO campaign has started up all over again. They have started to build up a head of steam again. Witness:

“Everybody was shocked about that — but I’m not disappointed,” said (Laura) Greene, the president-elect of the American Physical Society. “I’m sure they’ll get the Nobel Prize at some point.”

“Natürlich gibt es dafür einen Nobelpreis, da geht gar kein Weg dran vorbei, aber eben noch nicht in diesem Jahr”, sagte Karsten Danzmann, Direktor des Max-Planck-Instituts für Gravitationsphysik, am Dienstag nach der Bekanntgabe der diesjährigen Preisträger.

So I thought I would help the campaign by drafting a sample nomination letter that makes the strongest possible case for the Prize. The central strategy is to create pressure on the Nobel Committee from as many directions as one can. This recommendation comes from an imaginary Professor Everard Vitton, a Rope Theorist.

Professor Sven Svensson
Chairman, 2017 Nobel Committee for Physics

Dear Professor Svensson:

Thank you for inviting me to nominate candidates for the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics. Since self-nomination is not permitted, I would like to nominate instead Kip Thorne, Rainer Weiss and Barry Barish for their discovery of black holes Merger & Acquisition with the LIGO instrument. This M&A creates the greatest IPO in the history of science. The stock will skyrocket.

As most authoritatively adjudged by science reporters and blog hosts, this discovery is a shoo-in for the Nobel Prize – a slam-dunk, a sure bet. Also, the sequential award to LIGO of the Breakthrough Prize, the Gruber Prize, the Shaw Prize and the Kavli Prize creates a strong collegial compulsion on the Nobel Committee to make this award and complete the sequence. After all, the tycoon prizes must stick together. Otherwise these other prizes will be left holding the bag. As it is, because of the Nobel non-award to LIGO this year, when Thorne and Weiss meet with President Obama in the Oval Office or hobnob with rented Hollywood divas in an airport hangar, there will be a dark cloud hanging over the ceremony.

Recently the world got the impression that whoever competently analyzed LIGO found it flawed to the extreme. Whoever gave kneejerk approval found it absolutely perfect. Do not be misled by this false impression. The former group constitutes riffraff while the latter group is made of establishment stalwarts.

The LIGO proponents, especially the establishment theorists and the science reporters, should be your most trusted counsel. As you know, I have been likened to Hendrik Antoon Lorentz, a fine experiment-oriented type. As such I can testify to things experimental even if I cannot tell which end of LIGO is up. And of course our top-flight academic experimentalists have fully endorsed LIGO even though they do not know which end of LIGO is down.

Kip Thorne, as he said himself, is a man of history. Rainer Weiss, when he said the Nobel Prize would —- up his life, actually meant that he would love to have the Prize. And please forgive Barry Barish’s showing that off-color graphic. It is nothing compared to what a US Presidential candidate has done.

In sum, Thorne, Weiss and Barish will eminently enhance that glorious roster hallowed by names like Penzias & Wilson, Smoot & Mather, and Perlmutter, Schmidt & Riess.

Sincerely yours,
Everard Vitton
Whatchamacallit Distinguished Chair of Mathematical Physics

ADDED 10/18/2016:

Folks, please to take a look at this old graphic of mine. Will there be more red ink here?


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