The background: The big news in the science world this week is that, on Thursday, it will be officially announced that LIGO has detected gravitational waves. Some people have even started talking about a Nobel Prize. I agree that this is a momentous accomplishment and these people deserve all the nerd glory the world has to offer; that said, I feel that, in a fair world, this Nobel Prize should be shared between LIGO and (posthumously) Albert Einstein. After all, he is the one that came up with the theory of physics that predicts things like gravitational waves.
The observation: Nobel Prizes can't be awarded to deceased individuals; the Nobel Committee doesn't award Prizes for theoretical work before its predictions are experimentally confirmed; and theoretical physics is churning out ideas that can't be directly tested with today's technology and resources. Put these factors together, and I have this uneasy feeling that Englert and Higgs might have been the last theorists to receive a Nobel Prize. It really looks like Stephen Hawking and Ed Witten, which are widely recognized as among the best theoretical physicists ever, will never get one. For practical purposes, the Nobel Prize in Physics has become the Nobel Prize in Engineering Physics.
The question: are there any theoretical physicists that are young enough, their work groundbreaking enough, and the testing technology sufficiently within our current reach, that a Nobel Prize could reasonably be awarded to them?