Alfred Nobel stated, when he developed the Nobel Prize, that it should go to the discovery responsible “for the greatest benefit to mankind.” The science here is not only proven, it’s well on its way to changing the way that we as humans live our daily lives.
Gravitational wave astronomy is opening a door that we can hardly conceive, behind which things beyond our imagination lie. So, it’s hard to, ahem, quantify which of the two discoveries really is “greater,” and it makes me think we need a Nobel Prize in cosmology so that fewer impossible choices about whom to award need to be made. What could be of more benefit to humankind than to know WTF is going on?
In Hyperspace, Michio Kaku talks about how some of the hardest problems in physics and, specifically, cosmology haven’t been solved because they are simply too hard and we cannot devote sufficient human brain and computational power to solve them (if they’re even within our power as a species and civilization to solve, at all). I wonder if a Nobel prize in that arena could spur more action and get research departments to invest more time and money into solving these problems.