Gravitational waves and Einstein
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Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves 100 years ago Montage: Nasa/Caltech/Public Domain
Gustav Källstrand Nobel Museum
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Nobel Prize expert Gustav Källstrand at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm Credit: Hansjörg Kissel / Sveriges Radio

Gravitational waves discovered too late for this year's Nobel

4:16 min

Despite media speculation it is highly unlikely the discover of gravitational waves will result in a Nobel Prize this year, and the researchers may have to wait even longer, expert Gustav Källstrand told Radio Sweden. 

"Definitely not this year. Nominations for 2016 had to be in by the 1st of February. If they would have done this discovery two weeks earlier, then perhaps. It is very rare that the prize has been given so soon after the discovery. The discoverers of the Higgs particle for example had to wait 49 years ", says Gustav Källstrand, curator at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm.

The detection of gravitational waves at LIGO laboratories in the US states of Washington and Louisiana is dubbed one of the most remarkable breakthroughs of our time.

Astronomy is now to enter a new era, scientists cheered this week, as 100 years after he published his general theory of relativity, scientists proved this part of Albert Einstein's ideas right. 

Beyond doubt a first class discovery and candidate for the Nobel Prize for Physics, but "unless the Nobel Committee is absolutely certain that the experiment is correct, they won't award the prize. That is how the Nobel Prize has achieved the high status that is has", says Gustav Källstrand.

Another tricky question for the Nobel Committee will be to figure out who is to be awarded for the detection of gravitational waves as numerous scientists are involved in the discovery. Not a completely new situation though for the committee: In 1984 the prize was awarded to two leading scientists at the CERN facility in Geneva instead of to the entire experiment as a whole.

"Up to three people can share a prize. One way to do it is as in 1984, when Rubbia and van der Meer shared the prize. To award a whole organization has never been done in the history of the Nobel Prize for Physics. Theoretically is it possible, but it would be quite a change ", Gustav Källstrand told Radio Sweden. 

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