The prestigious Nobel Prize season kicks off Monday with rumors leading to Egypt’s Maggie Gobran as the winner for the peace prize for helping Cairo’s unfortunate children.
Gobran, known as Egypt’s ‘Mama Maggie’, was nominated by members of the United States congress, a report from a Christian news site said.
According to the report, Congressmen Frank Wolf, Bill Huizenga, Joseph Pitts, Robert Aderholt and John Carter all signed a letter addressed to the Norwegian Nobel Committee Council, pushing that the Coptic be awarded of the prestigious peace title.
“Ms. Gobran is a woman of the utmost integrity and her tireless work has served thousands of Egyptians, including countless children. She has given a voice to the poor,” reads the letter, as quoted by Christian Post.com.
‘Mama Maggie’ is the founder of Stephen’s Children, an organization that supports impoverished Christian and Muslim children and families in Cairo and has been dubbed as ‘Mother Teresa of Cairo’.
The letter added, “It is through her deep religious and moral commitment that Mama Maggie has succeeded in creating an organization that serves the most poor, desperate, and vulnerable population of Egypt. Clothed entirely in white, Mama Maggie is almost an angelic presence in Egypt’s slums, embodying the virtues of generosity, gentleness and charity,” as quoted by the Christian Post report.
Prior to serving Egypt’s poor and finally realizing her calling, Gobran was a computer-science professor at the American University of Cairo.
The first Nobel award to be announced this year was the medicine prize on Monday, which went to Japan’s Shinya Yamanaka and Britain's John Gurdon for their research in nuclear reprogramming, a process that instructs adult cells to form early stem cells which can then be used to form any tissue type.
Public broadcaster Swedish Radio had also suggested that the nod could go to researchers in the field of epigenetics, which studies nature versus nurture and how genes respond to their environment.
Like every year, most of the speculation in the run-up to the announcements focuses on who will take home the prestigious peace and literature prizes.
Betting sites have become a popular feature of the guessing game in recent years, with gamers sometimes curiously accurate amid suspicions of leaks from within the award committees.
This year, Coptic Christian Gobran, tops the list of one betting site for the peace prize, with 6.5-to-one odds ahead of the October 12 announcement.
But that race looks wide open this year with no clear frontrunner among the 231 nominees.
Although the peace prize committee never discloses the nominees' names, former U.S. president Bill Clinton, ex-German chancellor 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 committee and each year publishes his own shortlist of possible winners.
His list includes Sharp, an American political theorist and expert on non-violent revolution; Russian rights group Memorial and its founder Svetlana Gannushkina; and independent Russian media outlet Echo of Moscow and its chief editor Alexei Venediktov.
A Nigerian duo campaigning against the misuse of religion, Archbishop John Onaiyekan and Mohamed Sa'ad Abubakar, Sultan of Sokoto, are also on it, as is Myanmar President Thein Sein.
Afghan human rights activist, ex-minister and burka opponent Sima Samar is meanwhile also seen as a possible winner, as is Cuban human rights activist Oscar Elias Biscet.
For the literature prize, Chinese author Mo Yan and Japan's Haruki Murakami share the top two spots on one betting site.
Literature experts in Stockholm have suggested it could be time for the Academy to pick a woman or a North American.
Names being whispered in literary circles include Canadian short story writer Alice Munro -- though the Swedish Academy has never given the prize to a short story writer -- as well as U.S. author Don DeLillo and Somali novelist Nuruddin Farah.
“One could imagine that it would be an author from North America, a man maybe, like Don DeLillo or Philip Roth,” said Elisabeth Grate, who runs her own publishing house.
“But it would be nice with a woman,” she added.
In line with tradition, and unlike the other prizes, the date of the literature prize announcement is revealed only a couple of days before. But it is traditionally announced on a Thursday, and could therefore come on October 11.
The physics prize, to be announced on Tuesday, has also created 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-worthy research.
The names of the chemistry prize laureates will be revealed on Wednesday, with Swedish Radio suggesting Svante Paeaebo of Sweden could win for his groundbreaking analysis of ancient DNA.
The economics prize, which has been dominated by Americans over the years, is the last to be announced, on October 15.
Because of the economic crisis, the Nobel Foundation has slashed the prize sum to eight million Swedish kronor ($1.2 million, 930,940 euros) per award, down from the 10 million kronor awarded since 2001.