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Why the Nobel Prize might need a makeover

An astrophysicist whose dreams were dashed by dust discusses the award’s downsides in a new book

By
9:00am, April 2, 2018
Nobel Prize

FOOL’S GOLD  The Nobel Prize is science’s highest honor — but coveting the prize can have negative repercussions. In a new book, astrophysicist Brian Keating describes his personal experience with the award’s allure.

Losing the Nobel Prize
Brian Keating
W.W. Norton & Co., $27.95

Dust may seem insignificant, but in science, it can cost you a Nobel Prize.

That’s what happened to Brian Keating, a major contributor to the BICEP2 team that claimed in 2014 to have found the first definitive evidence of cosmic inflation (SN: 4/5/14, p. 6), a period of extremely rapid expansion just after the Big Bang. Months later, the evidence crumbled: A swirling pattern, seen in light released 380,000 years after the universe’s birth, was due to cosmic dust bunnies, not inflation (SN: 2

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