So today's physics Nobel Prize was awarded to three physicists who worked on blue LEDs, devices that make light bulbs glow brighter and last longer than normal ones. It's a well-deserved recognition, really one for a physics-based invention rather than for a fundamental discovery (as an aside, it's worth noting how much the invention owes to the chemistry of gallium nitride semiconductors). The last time an invention was recognized was when the prize was given out for CCDs in 2009.
However I think the prize also casts some serious doubt on a lot of predictions that Thomson Reuters and others have been making for tomorrow's chemistry award. It's certainly not unheard of for prizes in two disciplines to be awarded for the same field of study (for instance chemistry and medicine often trail each other in the context of crystal structures of important proteins) and I haven't really done an exhaustive study of how often this has happened before, but I would guess that the odds of it are pretty low.
If nothing else, today's blue LED prize almost certainly means that one of the most popular predictions for tomorrow (and Thomson Reuters's choice) - that for Ching Tang's work on organic LEDs - will have to be tossed out of the window for now. It seems extremely unlikely for two kinds of LEDs to be awarded two different prizes in the same year.
Today's recognition is not just a recognition of materials science but even more so of energy. That might mean that some of the energy-based prize predictions for tomorrow may also be off the mark. Thus, the odds for awarding a prize for Li-ion batteries or for dye injected solar cells may sadly have worsened.
Since both materials and energy are no longer looking that great in my book, I now have a revised set of predictions. In light of today's development I think that the chances for other kinds of chemistry might now be higher. So I am now bumping up my predictions for biochemistry (click chemistry, nuclear receptors, chemical biology - eg. Stuart Schreiber) and also adding a prediction for polymers (especially ATRP) which I missed earlier. Single molecule spectroscopy (Moerner etc.) and electron transfer in proteins and biomolecules (Gray, Barton etc.) also stand a good chance now.
Chemists, time to break out the pitchforks: A biologist may "steal" "our" Nobel once again...