Los­ing the Nobel Prize: A Sto­ry of Cos­mol­o­gy, Ambi­tion, and the Per­ils of Sci­ence’s High­est Honor

  • From the Publisher
March 29, 2018

What would it have been like to be an eye­wit­ness to the Big Bang? In 2014, astronomers wield­ing BICEP2, the most pow­er­ful cos­mol­o­gy tele­scope ever made, revealed that they’d glimpsed the spark that ignit­ed the Big Bang. Mil­lions around the world tuned in to the announce­ment broad­cast live from Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty, imme­di­ate­ly ignit­ing rumors of an immi­nent Nobel Prize. But had these cos­mol­o­gists tru­ly read the cos­mic pro­logue or, swept up in Nobel dreams, had they been deceived by a galac­tic mirage?

In LOS­ING THE NOBEL PRIZE, Bri­an Keat­ing tells the inside sto­ry of BICEP2’s mes­mer­iz­ing dis­cov­ery and the sci­en­tif­ic dra­ma that ensued, bring­ing to life the high­ly com­pet­i­tive, pub­lish-or-per­ish world of mod­ern sci­ence. He provoca­tive­ly argues that the Nobel Prize, instead of advanc­ing sci­en­tif­ic progress, may actu­al­ly ham­per it, encour­ag­ing speed and greed while pun­ish­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion and bold inno­va­tion. Keat­ing also offers thought­ful, prac­ti­cal solu­tions for reform­ing the prize, pro­vid­ing a vision of a sci­en­tif­ic future in which cos­mol­o­gists may, final­ly, be able to see all the way back to the very beginning.

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