Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thomson Reuters bets on teleported higgsless Nobel

Breaking news: Dr Joseph Conlon, a string theorist at Oxford cooperating with the Royal Society as well, just sent me a link to their new cute website called:

WhyStringTheory.COM. Recommended!
The physics Nobel prize winners for 2012 will be announced on Tuesday, October 9th.

As the Montreal Gazette and others mention, Thomson Reuters that often publishes its guesses – with mixed results – has made a somewhat strange prediction for this year's award.

David Pendlebury of Thomson Reuters uses his alchemist Al Gore Rhythm based on the Web of Knowledge to guess the winners. Who are they?

The Thomson Reuters frontrunners are:
Based on that, Pendlebury picks IBM researcher Charles Bennett, Gilles Brassard of Université de Montréal and William Wootters at Williams College in Massachusetts for their description of the protocols for quantum teleportation.
Well, it probably refers e.g. to this 1993 paper which has over 7,000 citations by Google Scholar but it has had additional authors, too. It was probably the first paper that teleported a quantum state using an entangled pair, classical information from the first, destroyed copy of the object, and an appropriate, this-classical-information-dependent manipulation with the newly created, teleported, copy.

It's surely fun but it's really a trivial application of rudimentary quantum mechanics, a piece of recreational mathematics of a sort, and even as an engineering concept, it hasn't been terribly useful so far and it's a bit questionable whether it will ever be. I think that a good enough undergraduate student, if he were asked to "find a method to teleport a quantum state", would be able to invent this method, too.

I am not saying they can't win but I would personally find such a choice a bit childish – despite the fact that I find the research of related issues at IBM to be highly valuable. This result has been also valuable; I just don't think it is an advance of the Nobel prize caliber.


This teleportation of Alfred Nobel wasn't quite accurate because the end result was Antonín Dvořák. Can you distinguish these two men? Well, perhaps, Dvořák looks a bit more angry, passionate, or evil...

Pendlebury bets the Nobel prize will be unrelated to the Higgs boson because it's too early and because the list of theoretical candidates is too messy. Well, I don't think it's so hard and I don't think that the Nobel committee would be skipping this whole Nobel prize just because it would be afraid to make a cut – a cut that may be made somewhat randomly but the people aren't afraid to do so. I don't know if it's too early. It's my feeling that the theory winners may have been nominated already before the July 4th discovery and the discovery just turned that unlikely outcome into a somewhat likely one. There will probably be an experimental Nobel prize for the God particle as well – but it may indeed be too early in 2012 because the Big Cheeses probably haven't gone through the complicated nominating process yet.

Thomson Reuters picks Allis and Grunstein as winners for medicine for their epigenetics.


  1. Ha ha, this new string theory site is fun :-).

    I have already recommended it in a comment at physics SE :-P...

    But he will certainly need a good firewall ... :-/

  2. I read a science fiction story from about 10 years related to "quantum teleportation" where they sent a single entangled particle across the universe and from that they were able to unlimited star trek like teleportations. lol

    Of course it being sci fi, the story quickly develops into a "Frankenstein's monster" plot.

    Anybody with real understanding knows that the whole state can't be reproduced, because it is unknowable. So real teleportation in this fashion is impossible.

  3. Weird prediction! Whether or not a Higgs-related Nobel is >50% likely, it's still obviously the most probable single result. While the "it's too recent" and "too many people deserve credit" arguments could debatably play a role, there's no way those issues make a Higgsy Nobel less likely than some particular random alternative.

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  5. It certainly looks highly likely that Nobel and Dvorak had some relatively recent predecessors in common!

    Apropos Dvorak:
    We (of MSO) are performing his hellishly difficult (at least for the 1st violins) Karneval, and also his cello concerto, for the rest of this week. %-|
    But he sure conceived nice music - not music deserving to be decomposed (like many examples of so called "modern music" that popped out of opportunistic self-deluded people who are at least 'in spirit' related to the physics-polluting persons pointed out to us by Lumo.

  6. they have Peter Woit's blog at the links

    i know a video game shop that is trying to make a better website.

  7. Linking to THE sourball is quite ... naive ... It will not prevent him from ranting against this nice new site :-/

  8. Dear Peter, are you a violist or do you play the tympani? ;)

    And what does the "M" in MSO stand for, if it's not too personal a question?

  9. Everybody who is on physics SE and likes should upvote the corresponding answer on the Meta post listing the adds to get featured on the main page. With my +1 it has two and to appear on the main page it needs +6 ... That would be fun :-D.