LIGO NOBEL: Physics grapevine chatter

In the comments section of this blog post, the following comments from two different people appear:

I’ve heard various rumors that LIGO was nominated in time for the Nobel last year. Not sure what to conclude from that if true.


Regarding LIGO and Nobel, I have also heard that the three LIGO pioneers were nominated. It would be strange if they hadn’t been, there are a lot of people who can nominate and LIGO is a big collaboration; I would think that some possible nominators already knew about the coming announcement before the deadline.

If these are true, then they show how deeply cunning, conniving and scheming the LIGO community is. Have you ever heard of applying for the Nobel Prize before the fact? While they were telling the world that they waited until 11 February to make painstakingly sure that the discovery is correct, they were campaigning for the Nobel Prize in January or earlier.

But even this would not have satisfied the Nobel nomination rule anyway – the rule that says that the discovery must have been published by January 30, 2016.

This means that the nominators would have asked the Nobel Prize people to waive the above rule. This rule has been inviolate since the inception of the Prize.

What was the dire urgency here that the Ligonauts could not play be the rules like everyone else?

My answer: They wanted to entrench and enshrine the “discovery” as quickly and as concretely as possible, before any doubts emerged. They knew that the discovery was on very shaky grounds. It was, like, Quick before it melts!

There is talk again that the LIGO Nobel Prize will surely be in 2017. There will be no need to waive any rules this time.

The Breakthrough Prizes in Physics, Mathematics and Life Sciences have just been awarded. Read an illustrated account of the great atmospherics Yuri Milner creates to reward the staid scientists with a good time here.


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