Nobel from Papers or Books?

  1. It seems Nobel Prizez were mostly given for killer papers written like "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies". Is it a Stockholm rule that it must be published in paper and not in books? How many Nobel Prize Winners conveyed the ideas in a book and not a paper. And what is the advantage of a paper over book?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    I would guess it is because books are published to explain the current field as it is understood whereas new data or models are almost exclusively published in papers.
     
  4. tiny-tim

    tiny-tim 26,041
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    Nearly all Nobel prizes for literature were for books. :smile:
     
  5. For example someone (let's say a savant) was able to derive the constants of nature directly from some equations. And he shared this in a book without publishing any paper. Would he get a Nobel?

    What if a physicist read the book and saw the idea and published it in arvix or other paper where they were recognized more officially.

    Who would get the Nobel, the Savant or physicist?
     
  6. The problem with books is anybody can write and publish anything in them. So why would the Nobel committee take the book seriously?
     
  7. So if the physicist got the idea originally from the book and redress it with equations and publish it first in peer reviewed paper, then the physicist got the Nobel (even though it's not his original idea but the Savant's)?
     
  8. Office_Shredder

    Office_Shredder 4,499
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    If somebody solved a genuinely Nobel prize worthy problem and published their solution in a book, they would get credit for it. It's just that there's no reason to publish such a thing in a book - nobody would bother buying it. The academics wouldn't because serious new research is published in journals, not books, and the laypeople wouldn't because they have no idea what the book is saying.

    It's possible that somebody else does read the book and tries to steal the idea, and it's likely they could get away with it for a little bit. But I doubt that would last very long (on the order of a month before the record is set straight) so by the time things like Nobel prizes are rewarded everybody would know who to credit. The more likely scenario is that nobody ever reads the book, because who would buy it? And the idea simply vanishes into the mists of time until it's independently rediscovered.

    Asking why people don't win Nobel prizes based on what they wrote in a book is like asking why reporters don't win Pulitzer prizes based on books they write. In principle you could break news in a book format, but nobody does that, so nobody's winning prizes in that manner
     
  9. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
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    Ideas do not win Nobel Prizes. Anyone can come up with an idea and ideas do not create scientific progress. Predictions and coherent explanations must be made and in Physics, mathematics is a requirement to this end.
     
  10. So for example you have a Savant brother and he solved it and both of you don't have Ph.Ds. How do you publish this in a paper then.. for example Arxiv only publish by referral. You can't definitely send him the paper because he would surely steal the idea. So what's the best way to publish and what paper in case this hypothetical scenerio occurs.
     
  11. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
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    What does having a PhD have to do with anything? There are no education checks when you publish. The arxiv is a pre-print server, a place where people post papers that are being published (or are in the process of review) in peer-reviewed journal. You do not need to use arxiv, it is simply a convenience.

    If you have an idea, you send it to the journal you see most fit in sending it to. This will probably be the journal where most of your research has come from. For example, if you work in gravitation or cosmology, you might have used a lot of work from Physical Review D and that might be a good journal to submit to.
     
  12. Really? You mean all papers at arxiv are bound to be published? I thought it was just substitute for print publication.

    How about the savant with no physics degree (remember a Savant has genius ability to see patterns and hence can see the hidden patterns in the constants of nature). Could he just submit it to Physical Review D? Do you mean to say anyone with worthy material can submit it to Physical Review D even if he hasn't finished Ph.D.? Or is there a requirement for certain degrees for any papers to be accepted?
     
  13. Office_Shredder

    Office_Shredder 4,499
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    There are no degree requirements to publish a paper
     
  14. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
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    Not necessarily. Some papers are posted when they've been accepted for publication. Some papers are currently in the process of going through peer-review and they may end up being rejected. There are some people who post on the arxiv with no intention of going through the peer-review process at a journal, but I'm not exactly sure what the deal is with those people. This is why the arxiv is not a substitute for peer-review.


    Sure, anyone can submit worthy material to a journal like that regardless of their education. However, the chance of someone who has never formally educated himself in a centuries old field making a discovery is effectively 0. It would be like asking if someone could write the next great American novel without ever having read a book or been taught how to use a pencil/pen/keyboard.
     
  15. I guess so many people posted at arxiv even without intend to publish is to reserve the idea. For example. If eventually they were right, then even if Witten or others discovered the idea independent latter, the arxiv writer gets the recognition. But then, if they were independently discovered, won't the recognization be given to the first one who discovered it? However in QED where Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonaga got the Nobel. Did they discover them at the same time, at the same hour? If not and we know it is not. Then why give it to them together and not to the first one who discovered it? If the analogy holds, the arxiv writter and Witten will both get it even if Witten discovered it say 5 months later.


    We are in a period now where perhaps M-theory can only be solved by a genius Savant. Remember they can solve for prime numbers of 20 digits in a flash that no computer can do. So they may be able to solve for M-theory so I wonder how they can get the Nobel when they do this.
     
  16. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 7,118
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    But why would they? Why not publish? The whole point of doing scientific research is to get your ideas out there. To use the reporter analogy used earlier, it would be like a New York Times editor writing an OP-ED piece and deciding to simply post it in his bedroom or on the bulletin board at a local library or something. It makes no sense. There's nothing wrong with it and surely he would receive credit for it, but it flies in the face of the whole idea behind journalism. It makes no sense to hide your work as a journalist just as it makes no sense to hide your work as a scientist (national security, personal safety, and a couple other reasons aside).

    Also, scientific discovers are not just someone figuring out something, writing down an equation, and boom, Nobel Prize. It's usually years of research done by more than one person (in high energy physics, sometimes even hundreds of people!). When a group of 3 people get a Nobel Prize, it is because the Nobel committee believes that they were the 3 biggest contributors to a significant field of study; none of them came up with 1 thing at 1 instant in time that made them worthy of a Prize.


    Well if that's true then, what are they waiting for?
     
  17. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    Brilliant!
     
  18. Yikes.
     
  19. Thanks for this new perspective about arxiv. I thought the site is equal to electronic version of the print or substitute for print. You know most magazines now come in ebook format. So I thought the arxiv library was like an online publication thing.


    Admit it. Nobel is not just the recognition but the 1.5 million dollars prize too. It's like a lotto prize. So how will they publish? In peer review journal which takes some months to review, the referee and colleagues will (with 8 of 10 probably) just acquired the idea and reframe it in other words to hide the connection. So maybe the Savant need to just publish it here at Physicsforums? In the Nobel Committee investigations, can the archive here be used as floor to establish the originator of the idea? If not here, where else to publish?
     
  20. Office_Shredder

    Office_Shredder 4,499
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    Do you have any basis for this or did you just make up a number? I wasn't aware that the physics community was a cesspool of crooks and scumbags

    Remember the nobel prize takes years to win, it's not an overnight process. Do you really think somebody's going to torpedo their career on the off-chance they can cover up a conspiracy to steal someone else's research for two decades? Especially when that person has probably put their paper on arxiv
     
  21. In the book Nobel Dreams, the author mentioned how competitions is so much in the community, and elsewhere I read how people are so afraid to submit critical idea for peer review because they are afraid the idea may be acquired. And in one case it is indeed acquired but the author gave the wrong formula and reinserted the right formula the last minute before it went into publication.
     
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