Nobel In Physics: A Prize For Outstanding Discoveries Or A Socio-political Recognition?

By Francesco Sylos Labini and Martín López Corredoira .

This year the committee of the Nobel Prize in Physics has gifted the humanity with a poetic touch: “for contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth’s place in the cosmos”. The Nobel Prize in Physics 2019 was awarded for one half to

James Peebles “for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology” and for the other half to Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz “for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star”. We might discuss how much outstanding is the latter contribution to Physics, but at least we precisely know which discovery is awarded. On the other hand, we cannot say the same about the particular discovery of cosmology awarded and it does not seem to fulfill Alfred Nobel’s will, which was to endow “prizes to those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind”.

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