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Summary

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, cosmologist and inventor of the BICEP (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) experiment Brian Keating tells the inside story of BICEP2's mesmerizing discovery and the scientific drama that ensued. In an adventure story that spans the globe from Rhode Island to the South Pole, from California to Chile, Keating takes us on a personal journey of revelation and discovery, bringing to vivid life the highly competitive, take-no-prisoners, publish-or-perish world of modern science. Along the way, 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.

©2018 Brian Keating (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about Losing the Nobel Prize

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A multiverse of a book

This book is several stories in one. First of all, it's about the Nobel Prize; secondly, it's about the work that Brian Keating did that may have won him the price (in one of his multiverses) and thirdly it's a mini autobiography, and fourthly there's a lot of background material about the discovery of the CMB and inflation. The theme I suppose is how the Nobel Prize by its very existence is skewing physics in how it is conducted, and having a different influence from what its creator ever intended. There's a lot of competing themes there and there is also a lot of frustration I suspect at having made the wrong decisions. He doesn't quite say that the Nobel Prize has ruined his life and his career but the implication is that it's taken the shine off them. Is it any good? The best thing for me is an honest description of how science works and the collaboration and competition between teams. I do have some sympathy with his frustration about the prize but if he really wanted to write about that he should have less of his work and more of the history of the winners and should be winners than he does.

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A passionate scientific self review

I loved it. Keating of course is a brilliant scientific but also a very good writer. It was full of fine tuned sentences with carefully and beautifully chosen words. This book can be devided in 3 chapters; a memoir, a scientific review of the cosmology field, and a sharp criticism on the Nobel prize. Despite the fact that the subjects are scattered somewhat randomly throughout the book, I enjoyed listening to it. It made me angry, emotional, happy, and above all thought me things. Thank you Keating!

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  • AstroJmona
  • 17-02-19

The breakthrough, and a roller coaster ride...

Not only does the scientific community but anyone with interest in this subject get to embark in this adventure. How the LIGO team discovered Gravitational Waves and at the center of such breakthrough a roller coaster. Hop in!
Brian Keating, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at UCSD takes us in a journey of discovery in Losing the Nobel Prize.
In September 2015 the LIGO team confirmed the existence of Gravitational Waves 100 years after a major prediction in Einstein’s famous General Theory of Relativity, E=mc2.
Unfortunately even after this massive accomplishment they still lost this monumental award winning a year later.
I know. No use to dwell on the past but I stand by him when he says “Dead men win no Nobels” because he is absolutely right, Science IS at stake.
The Nobel committee should rewrite their non conformist policies. Regardless of age, gender and posthumous awards need apply here. They should be awarded.
Although science isn’t about the recognition because the fruits of discovery are in themselves reaping good fruit; if the scientific community isn’t willing to recognize the men and women’s hard work for all the advancements in understanding how the universe works, how are we to inspire the future generations?
It’s imperative we give them their due.
This was such a huge discovery, and so it has been the ones that came before it.

This is not an angry review I promise but It’s a rather grateful one.
That we have all been given access to what went through the mind of these geniuses in the LIGO Labs although some will contend that it was the lasers instead than the men and women behind these experiments, is but a gift.
Every single Laureate, every single scientist in the world working in the field in outreach after years and years of research confirming those theories; my stars, 100 years. If Einstein were alive today; I wonder what would he have to say after this massive breakthrough.
We can only hope funding is acquired for future research and other projects should be pursued. Just 2 labs simply aren’t enough.

This isn’t a book you want to miss, and it’s one for the ages too. You want to buy one for your friends if they love science in general, those who have no understanding in the field will understand easily the subject and those that do understand it will love it even more so.
An in-depth view at what goes through the minds of men and women who walk the long and narrow passage to discovery which can be both fortuitous and lonely sometimes; all the way from Antarctica to the farthest reaches of the space where black holes merge in which the universe can help you confirm what you so long for, and humanity can take everything from you because it is what we usually do.
But that never stopped us before and our determination is far greater than anything.
We are explorers, wanderers and we shall continue on to the stars for that in itself is the true reward.
What are you waiting for? You won’t be able to put it down. Also, did I mention the chapter names are bomb?! An homage to pop culture. Bravo Professor. BRAVO! I got a kick every. Single. Time.
Now, if LIGO could please get more funding to upgrade the interferometers and see what neutron stars and pulsars are doing in deep space (if I’m understanding this correctly) and perhaps in a not so distant future it could also be sent to Space would be great. It works. It’s time.
Thank you Professor for such a wonderful read and listen. I’ll liaten to this again and again. Loved it!

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  • Andrea
  • 19-03-19

Awesome science for a lay audience

This book was so good that I intend immediately to begin reading the print version. It is my plan after I have done that to write a complete review. The narration was superb, clean and clear.I cannot imagine a better narration of this material

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  • Sean McCarthy
  • 04-01-19

Great book!

Great book for anyone who loves science. Superbly read and performed. Very interesting topic which does not go too deeply into cosmology.

1 person found this helpful

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  • pwat
  • 03-01-21

My review

Too much “prose” and too much complaining about the Nobel prize. I like the author but he occasionally drones on.

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  • Steve Promisel
  • 27-09-19

Overall worth reading

This was a somewhat frustrating audio book. The performance was excellent. There was a gap in chapter one that threw me off for a bit and was reported to Audible as well as mentioned in other reviews.

Even though the author sort of apologized for the somewhat whiny tone of a Nobel ‘loser’ and the book did bounce around too much, it was a fascinating study of science and the politics of science. I learned something new and that makes it worth reading to me.

So even though it sort of bothered me occasionally, I highly recommend listening to it or reading it.

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  • Customer2383
  • 08-12-18

Missing part in chapter 1

In chapter 1 at 13:52, there seems to a missing part. It jumps from one topic to a completely unrelated part. Has anyone else noticed this, or did I get a faulty download.

1 person found this helpful