The 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Part III: Revised OddsSeptember 3rd, 2010
Presented below is the official ChemBark list of odds against winning the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The candidates are sorted by discovery/invention rather than by scientist, so you will note that some scientists are listed more than once. The lists of scientists can get complicated. In cases where someone not listed could easily share in the prize for the associated discovery, a “+” is listed. In cases where one of the scientists listed could easily not share in that prize, a “–” is listed. The odds are reported in “odds against” format. Remember, this list attempts to address who will win the prize this year, not who should win the prize. There’s a big difference, and the latter subject is best left for another day.
Odds Against Winning the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Spectrosocopy & Application of Lasers, Zare/Moerner/+, 6-1
Nuclear Hormone Signaling, Chambon/Evans/Jensen, 7-1
Transition-Metal-Catalyzed Cross-Couplings, Suzuki/Heck/Sonogashira/Tsuji/+/–, 9-1
Bioinorganic Chemistry, Gray/Lippard/Holm/–, 9-1
The Field (everything not listed), 10-1
Electrochemistry/Electron Transfer, Bard/Hush/Gray/–, 15-1
Techniques in DNA Synthesis, Caruthers/Hood/+, 15-1
Instrumentation/Techniques in Genomics, Venter/+, 19-1
Biological Membrane Vesicles, Rothman/Schekman/+, 19-1
Molecular Studies of Gene Recognition, Ptashne, 19-1
Combinatorial Chemistry/DOS, Schreiber/+, 74-1
Solar Cells, Grätzel/+, 74-1
Pigments of Life, Battersby/+, 99-1
Development of the Birth Control Pill, Djerassi, 99-1
Applications of NMR Spectroscopy, Pines/Roberts/McConnell/+/–, 99-1
Development of Chemical Biology, Schultz/Schreiber/+, 99-1
Self-Assembly, Whitesides/Nuzzo/Stang/–, 99-1
Molecular Modeling and Assorted Applications, Karplus/Houk/Schleyer/Miller/+/–, 99-1
Small Regulatory RNA, Ambros/Baulcombe/Ruvkun, 149-1
Eukaryotic RNA Polymerases, Roeder, 149-1
Mechanical Bonds and Applications, Sauvage/Stoddart/+, 149-1
Bio- & Organo-catalysis, List/Lerner/Barbas, 149-1
Organic Synthesis, Evans/Danishefsky/Nicolaou/Ley/Trost/Stork/Wender/Kishi/+/–, 199-1
Mechanistic Enzymology, Walsh, 199-1
Fluorocarbons, DuPont/Curran/–, 199-1
Polymer Science, Matyjaszewski/Langer/+/– 199-1
Understanding of Organic Stereochemistry, Mislow, 199-1
Tissue Engineering, Langer/+, 199-1
Contributions to Bioorganic Chemistry, Breslow/Eschenmoser/+, 199-1
Nanotechnology, Lieber/Whitesides/Alivisatos/Mirkin/Seeman/+/–, 199-1
Dendrimers, Frechet/Tomalia/+, 399-1
Astrochemistry, Oka, 399-1
Zeolites, Flanigan, 399-1
Molecular Recognition, Dervan/+, 399-1
Molecular Machines, Stoddart/Tour/+/–, 399-1
1. This rundown is meant to approximate fair odds (without a built-in vig). In case you don’t know how this way of reporting odds works, the listed numbers (“m-n”) mean the associated entry has an expected probabilty to win of n/(m+n). Thus, 4-1 odds equates to a 20% expectation of winning. If your pick wins at 4-1 and you’ve bet $1, you get paid $5 ($4 + your $1 bet back) minus the house’s vig.
2. I’m not taking any action, you degenerate gamblers.
4. I think any decent list of this sort shouldn’t have many (or any) surprises on it. Every other year, I read the ISI Thomson Reuters predictions and laugh at their sheer nonsense. While there are people on the list above that would blow my mind if they won, they’re all appropriately listed at long odds. If you’re baffled at something, feel free to deposit your ridicule in the comments.
5. Note the drastically lowered odds for the field (i.e., a win by anyone unlisted) versus the 2007 list. When you consider that the last three prizes in chemistry were all picked from the top half of the 2007 list, this modification doesn’t seem unwarranted.
6. To all of you screaming, “Grätzel!”: I think you’re overestimating his chances this year. A prize for solar cells will probably not be awarded until someone actually “solves” the energy problem by inventing a cost-effective system for harnessing solar energy. That area is simply too immature; however, his chances are not insignificant. He does seem to have generated good buzz online, and the committee could always decide to give a “statement” prize about the importance of research in solar energy.
7. The organocatalysis work of List et al. has generated a lot of buzz online, but I can’t see it winning any time soon. Would the committee really recognize it before all of the Pd-catalysis work?
8. Several people have noted in comments threads that Sonogashira is dead. I can’t find an obituary anywhere, so I’m assuming he’s alive.
9. Who is my final prediction for the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (i.e., my one pick if someone were to put a gun to my head and say that a winning prediction was the only thing that would save my life)? Since last year went to hard-core structural biology, I don’t fancy anything biological to win this year. I’ve got to go with the laser people: Zare and Moerner. If last year had gone to something to do with materials or physical chemsitry, I would probably have the nuclear hormone signaling people at the top of the list. It’s so close that relatively minor factors are coming into play.
10. Please share your disgust in the comments.