It’s Nobel season—science’s “Super Bowl and the Oscars wrapped in to one,” says Lauren Wolf, head of the science and technology group at Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.
Between October 5 and 12, the Nobel committee will award prizes to scientists, thinkers, and leaders whose work has changed humankind. And like those other high-stakes events, the lead-up to the big reveal is half the fun.
For the third year running, C&EN will host an interactive webinar to predict the winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Panelists will discuss the history and selection process for the Nobel Prize, and then offer their guesses as to what chemist (or chemists) will take home the medal.
Naming the next Nobelist
How easy is it to pick a winner? According to Wolf, many people speculate by looking at past Nobel laureates and trends. Using data on past winners, it’s possible to make inferences about an individual’s chances based on their age, institutional affiliation, and even whether they wear glasses (apparently, being bespectacled increases your odds).
The factor that really matters, of course, is one’s contribution to the field. Explains Wolf, “A Nobelist in chemistry must have done pioneering work—work without which other chemists couldn’t do what they do now.” This means that winners also tend to be among chemistry’s biggest names.
Of course, to predict a winner, it also helps to have deep expertise in chemistry. ACS’ panel has it in spades. Panelists are:
- Jillian Buriak, a professor at the University of Alberta and the editor-in-chief of Chemistry of Materials. Last year, she watched the event with her class—this time, they’ll see her in the spotlight.
- Philip Ball, a freelance writer who’s contributed to Nature, Chemistry World, the New York Times, and more. He’ll be joining the call from the United Kingdom, and has a keen eye for top science around the world.
- Paul Bracher, a professor at Saint Louis University and author of the blog ChemBark. Paul is no stranger to the Nobel prediction game—he’s been posting his guesses on the blog for years.
Wolf and C&EN’s Matt Davenport will cohost the webinar (the two are also cohosts of the web series “Speaking of Chemistry”). Wolf correctly guessed one of the 2014 winners and is hoping to defend her title.
Join in the excitement
Webinar listeners can get in on the fun, too. For the first time this year, the session will be hosted on the ACS Webinars platform, which means listeners can ask questions of the panelists and weigh in on polls and trivia. They can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #ChemNobel.
The webinar will take place on Thursday, October 1 from 2–3 p.m. EST—and it’s free to attend. You can register here.
In the meantime, come up with your own prediction and tweet it using #ChemNobel. You’ve got nothing to lose—and major bragging rights to gain.