It is that time of year again - the week of the Nobel Prize announcements. And as usual, the academic community is buzzing with discussions of who will be this year's recipient of the most prestigious prize there is.

For many in the physics community this year, there is not much doubt. Most years there are several potential recipients, but the discovery of gravitational waves by LIGO almost guarantees that the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics will go to the team that designed and built it. It is certain that Kip Thorne will be one of them, having lead both the theoretical work and much of the experimental design over the years. Unfortunately there are four or five other individuals who could claim the honours as well, and the Nobel rules limit the total number to three. So someone is not going to be happy.

It is possible though that the Nobel for the discovery of gravitational waves will come in 2017 instead. The committee that makes the decision is notoriously conservative on these issues, and usually prefers to have independent confirmation of a discovery. However LIGO, like the LHC, is just too big and too expensive to have a second experiment confirm its results. And so in my opinion that won't be an issue, but no one knows what the prize committee will decide. Personally I believe that the committee will not be willing to award the prize to a discovery this new, and that is lacking independent verification.

If the prize is not awarded to the LIGO team, then it is very difficult to predict who else it could go to. There has been a lot of interesting research over the past several years, but very little has reached the level of acceptance necessary for a Nobel Prize. The 750 GeV resonance at LHC would have been a contender for the prize, but results announced this summer disproved its existence. Every years there is a push to give the award to various people who developed dark matter models, but without experimental proof that it exists or what form it takes, that is not going to happen. The work of the Kepler and Rosetta space missions have also been very important to the scientific community this year, but the Nobel committees have been avoiding giving the prize to astronomy discoveries, and especially missions that involve a large number of scientists. There were also some interesting theoretical results over the last few years, but as I wrote above the award committee does not like giving the prize to results not confirmed by experiment.

Ultimately though I believe that the Nobel committee will be too conservative to give the award to the LIGO team, and will instead look at some of the discoveries from the 1990s or 2000s that were important in their respective fields, but which were overlooked when bigger discoveries won the prize. And the number of such experiments and theories is too great to review here or even select an obvious candidate. But I predict that the committee will surprise everyone with a recipient or team of recipients that no one is thinking about, but which in hindsight will make perfect sense.

It is a time to celebrate the great advances made by science, and the hard work of many researchers in many fields of study. Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Nobel Prizes!