Once again we are at the most important week of the year for the scientific community, the week of the Nobel Prize announcements. This year there are a few serious contenders for the physics prize, and they all involve very interesting fields of research.

The leading candidate for the prize this year is probably the LIGO experiment, which last year detected the first gravitational waves. Since then they have confirmed the detection with two more gravitational waves and just recently detected their first triple coincidence event. (Which means that three detectors observed the same wave, adding weight to the discovery). The ability to detect gravitational waves will allow scientist to further study the theory of general relativity as well as some extended versions of the theory, and to study the properties of the high energy astrophysical events that spawned the waves. 

There are also some slightly less likely candidates for the prize this year. There are some in the experimental community who have argued that the teams at the LHC who detected the Higgs boson should receive a prize. The theorists who proposed the model received one a few years ago, but the experimentalists were excluded from that prize. Personally I do not think that this will happen since the Nobel can only go to individuals, not large collaborations, and I don't think they will award a second prize for the Higgs boson anyway. But anything is possible.

Another contender that has been discussed is a prize for the theory of cosmic inflation. Since it was first proposed nearly forty years ago, there has been no evidence against the theory and growing evidence in its favour. The discovery fifteen years that the Universe is nearly flat added a lot of weight to the validity of inflationary models, and more recent data from the polarization of cosmic microwaves came very close to providing definitive proof of inflation just a couple of years ago. It is a good candidate for the Nobel Prize, and it is clear which individuals would receive it, but because there are still alternative theories and because the claimed evidence from microwave polarization did not hold up under scrutiny, I do not see the Nobel committee being bold enough to award it this year.

And of course every year there are the less newsworthy discoveries that are still contenders for the Nobel Prize. It wouldn't be impossible to see a Nobel Prize to some of the astronomers who have discovered and studied exoplanets around distant stars, or possibly some of the planetary scientists who have made new discoveries on the properties of planets in our own solar system. There are also some advances in the technology sector over the past two decades that could be Nobel worthy, although personally I would prefer to see the prize go to pure research rather than engineering, but it is not uncommon to reward such developments as well.

Of course the most likely outcome of all is that the prize will be awarded for research that no one has thought about this year. There are numerous advances in all subfields of physics every year, and the Nobel committee has been known to go back several decades to find a worthy recipient. 

For now all we can do is wait until tomorrow morning to see whose work has been recognized and rewarded. I am sure that no matter who they select, they will be worthy of it.