Guessing starts on who among 231 nominees will win Nobel Peace Prize

For coveted peace prize, 231 nominees rumoured to range from Sima Samar to Bradley Manning

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 October, 2012, 4:24am


Early October means it's time for the annual Nobel Prize announcements and frenzied guessing over possible winners, with 231 peace prize nominees rumoured to range from former German chancellor Helmut Kohl to burqa opponent Sima Samar and US scholar Gene Sharp.

This year, the juries are going to great lengths to keep the laureates' names under wraps in the run-up to the announcements, which start on Monday and run daily until they wind up a week later with the economics prize.

While it is usually difficult to predict who will be recognised for pioneering research in the scientific fields - medicine, physics, chemistry and economics - the public can play the guessing game when it comes to the peace and literature prizes.

The Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize for literature, is known for its cloak-and-dagger methods to prevent any leaks about its choice.

In 2005, when British playwright Harold Pinter got the nod, the members of the academy's committee referred to him as Harry Potter, whose initials he shared.

Rumours of a potential leak at the academy swirled last year, prompting anti-corruption prosecutors to investigate why betting odds on Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer went from 13-1 to less than 2-1 in the hours before the academy read out his name.

The probe was later dismissed due to lack of evidence, but the academy is taking extra precautions this year and is limiting the number of people who have access to the winner's name.

As such it is dispensing with its usual routine of sending a courier with a sealed envelope containing the name of the winner to news outlets.

In line with tradition, and unlike the other prizes, the date of the literature prize announcement is revealed only a couple of days before.

Perhaps the most talked-about of the awards - the Nobel Peace Prize - appears to be a wide open race this year with no clear front runner.

A total of 231 nominees are in the running, and although the prize committee never discloses the nominees' names, Bill Clinton, Helmut Kohl, the EU and WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning are known to be on the list.

The head of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, Kristian Berg Harpviken, follows the work of the Peace Prize committee closely and each year publishes his own shortlist of possible winners.

The list includes Gene Sharp, an American political theorist and expert on non-violent revolution, Russian rights group Memorial and its founder Svetlana Gannushkina and Myanmar President Thein Sein.

Meanwhile, in an unusual twist, one of the science prizes is generating some buzz this year.

The discovery in July of a new fundamental particle believed to be the Higgs boson is one of the biggest breakthroughs in the field of physics in the past half century, and is widely considered Nobel Prize-winning research.

But the physics prize committee is staying mum about whether it will win.

"It's a big discovery. That's all I'm going to say," committee member Lars Brink said.