Sep

20

 A friend jocularly asked if I was going to Stockholm to receive a Nobel Prize. Actually, the idea is not as far-fetched as it sounds. The Nobel outfit's choice of categories is somewhat random. Why Literature but not Music? Why Physics but not Geology? Why not High Yield Bond Research?

Given that they generally hand out these things every year (aside from suspending the Peace Prize for world wars) I believe they'd get around to me eventually if my discipline were not arbitrarily excluded.

Really, these people remind me of the joke about God's response to man who complains that despite praying fervently each day for many years, he has never won the lottery: "Help me out; buy a ticket."

Anyhow, I did the next best thing to accepting a Nobel myself: I took the guided tour of the Stockholm City Hall, where they hold a banquet and a ball each year for the Nobel recipients.

The banquet is held in the Blue Hall, which is not blue. The architect's original plan to color it blue was so widely publicized prior to construction that the press stuck with the name. The Blue Hall must accommodate 1,300 Nobel banquet guests in 1,500 square meters. Each guest is consequently allocated just 57 centimeters (22.4 inches) of space at the banquet table. Except for Sweden's monarch, who gets 61 centimeters. As Mel Brooks said, "It's good to be the king."

There appears to be no basis in fact for the widespread belief that Alfred Nobel decided against establishing a prize in Mathematics because of a romantic rivalry with a mathematician. He apparently preferred branches of science with practical applications and didn't consider Mathematics one of them.

Let me point out that High Yield Bond Research, with its emphasis on avoiding financial ruin through corporate defaults, is eminently practical.

The Peace honorees receive their laurels in Oslo. So if you're very ambitious but still at the stage of choosing a field, think about which Scandinavian capital you'd prefer to visit one day.


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