|SEEING DOUBLE? THAT IS THE INTENTION.|
So trust The Economist's cerebral quarterly, Intelligent Life, to come up with something exceptional. In the most recent issue, Tom Whipple finds out... wait for it... how the Nobel winners hear the good news.
There are three ways people receive the call. The most satisfying, for [Staffan] Normark [permanent secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences], is when it is a total surprise. "Sometimes the person is completely silent. So totally that I don’t even know if they are still there. You can just hear him breathing." He notices his own use of the male pronoun. “It is still,” he says with a twinge of apology, "mainly men."
Sometimes the subjects of his research have an inkling that it could be their time; but when their phone rings, they try not to let themselves believe it. Serge Haroche (physics, 2012) was out walking with his wife when he saw a Swedish code appear on his mobile. "I realised it was real and it’s, you know, really overwhelming," he says. "I was lucky — I was in the street and passing near a bench, so I was able to sit down immediately."
And what is the third way? Find out for yourself by clicking on this link: "Nobel Calling" (that is such a brilliant headline too).
- By the way, since we're celebrating all things cerebral this week, read (also in Intelligent Life) this brief write-up on P.G. Wodehouse, that master of the English language, and his writing style: "P.G. WODEHOUSE'S ART OF THE COMMA".
- Illustration courtesy: Intelligent Life/Noma Bar
- ALSO READ: "Corporate role models: Mother Teresa and (gasp!) Lady Gaga" (More brilliant writing from The Economist)
got the call from the Nobel committee
Senior media professional PRATIBHA UMASHANKAR commented via e-mail:
And the call came, but the great mathematician, sadly, had no idea why he had won a prize for Economics.
Later, he had a miraculous recovery, after more than three decades of suffering, and he was able to go and receive the Nobel himself, and give an acceptance speech. Such is the stuff modern-day myths are made of!