NB: This article was written on October 4, 2012 but due to a technical glitch with the blogging software it was not posted until October 10, 2012.

The awards season is here once again - at least for scientists. Next week the Nobel Prizes will get awarded, including the Nobel Prize in physics. It is considered the greatest prize in science, with a history dating back over a century and recipients join a virtual hall of fame of legendary minds.

And so I will make some predictions, to prove either how wise I am or how foolish :)

For the past few months, the favorite to win this year has been the Higgs boson discovery from the summer. This has been a search that lasted for over forty years, and has involved thousands of physicists and billions of dollars. Personally this is where I would send the prize - an equal division between the theorists who developed the model in the 1960s and the leaders of the two teams that discovered it at the LHC. (I must admit though that giving a million dollars to a multi-billion dollar collider seems like draining the ocean with a teacup)

However I am going to disagree with the majority view, and say that I do not believe the Higgs will get the award this year.

Over the last decade or two the committee awarding the prize has been very conservative about who wins. In the 1930s and 1940s it was standard for the award to go to the best research of the previous year, and even in the 1960s and 1970s the gap was only five to ten years. But lately the awards are going to research that was done decades ago. They awarded the prize to the inventor of the microchip, but only after the internet craze and the sale of billions of chips. They awarded a prize for the invention of the digital camera sensor, but only after they became common in everyday life. (That isn't intended as a criticism either, but it is just the way the prize has evolved in recent times).

And so, with the committee being quite conservative about not giving out the Nobel until there is no doubt about the validity of a discovery, I don't think the Higgs will get it this year. I feel it will go to a discovery made several years ago and which has been widely tested and accepted by the scientific community. As for what the is, I have no idea. There are too many brilliant ideas that have yet to be rewarded, and any of them would be worthy of the Nobel Prize. We will learn next week...

Update: The Nobel Prize announcement has been made, and as I predicted it did not go to the Higgs. It was awarded instead to two scientists who worked on nanotechnology and specifically studying the quantum effects of very small objects. Their work is certainly deserving of the prize, and I will try to write a better summary of it later. Congratulations to them, and to there teams!