Monday, October 11, 2004

Virtual Nobel stock market

One of my fun activities in the last week or so has been the German virtual stock market featuring various Nobel prize candidates, see for example

So far, physics has been the only predictive science - Gross, Wilczek, and Politzer, the winners of the 2004 Nobel prize in physics and our new heroes, have been traded on this stock market. No other Nobel prize winners have made it to the "main market" on the website. (We will see whether economics will join physics tomorrow.)

Well, their stocks were not the most expensive ones: Wilczek, Politzer, Gross were on the 6th, 8th, 10th places, respectively. Anton Zeilinger, the Austrian physicist who made several well-known quantum entanglement experiments (involving the EPR effect and quantum teleportation), has been the clear leader among the physics candidates. Well, it is probably because the Austrian media have been full of articles about Zeilinger's achievements. These experiments are cute but they confirmed that quantum mechanics is correct, indeed: they have led to no new discoveries. This is what the readers of the Austrian and German newspapers can't understand...

Well, the organizers of the virtual stock market have not criticized me yet for being both the 3rd as well as the 4th most successful trader so far. :-) Both of my accounts had various combinations of Gross, Wilczek, and Politzer in their portfolios. In fact, I tend to believe that the performance of these three physicists on the German website might have helped them.

Let me wrap up: I think that this stock market is a very good mechanism to measure the opinion of the participants, and the creators of this website should be applauded. However, this great mechanism simply does not allow the participants to guess who will win the Nobel prize. Feynman used to say that by averaging the opinion of millions of people, you cannot calculate what is the length of the emperor's nose. It is still more reliable to ask one assistant of the emperor who has actually seen him - even though he seems as a small statistical ensemble. ;-)


  1. Why was Wilczek trading 30% higher than Gross and Politzer?

  2. Good question. He was not only traded higher; he was also traded much earlier, which is correlated. I suspect that the German users were only able to find out the single name related to QCD. It is not easy to propose a candidate, and I suspect that Wilczek was proposed so early only because of a combination of coincidences.

    During the last week, four independent people proposed David Gross, so he had a very short time to increase the price of his share. (I was the fourth person who proposed him - they just took some time.) Nevertheless he was doing well. However, at the very end, I decided that Politzer had to get the award, too, and therefore I helped him to get to the main market, and sold most of my Gross' stocks. (Politzer was also a cheaper stock at that time.)

    Sort of randomly, Politzer's prize jumped over Gross during the last trading day...

  3. An update: Only on of two economics Nobel prize winners were traded - namely Prescott. Economics half-joined physics as a predictive science. ;-)

  4. It would be natural to guess that the other richest people on this exchange also benefited from some knowledge of physics -- is the #1 winner Zurab Kakushadze?

  5. Wow! That's a good point. It indeed sounds extremely reasonable that the "Zurab" who won the stock market (and who was the first one to propose Gross) is Kakushadze. ;-)

  6. Incidentally, Zurab K. has moved to the Bank of Canada or something like that... I am not sure how to reach him.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.