The last time I won a prize was when I was in school. And as far as I remember, I was super excited for it. That’s what awards do, right?
The Nobel prize is one of the biggest awards in the world. And what do you expect to be a winner’s first reaction? Dance and sing in excitement. Quite weirdly, this is not how some of the Nobel Prize recipients reacted when they came to know they’d won.
1. Physicist Michel Mayor was at the airport and got to know about him winning the Physics Nobel 2019 when he accidentally logged onto his laptop.
Mayor was on a lecture tour in Spain, totally unaware of winning the award, when he accidentally logged onto his laptop and saw his inbox flooded with messages. His priceless reaction went viral, soon after.
New laureate Michel Mayor was on a lecture tour in Spain when he heard the news about his #NobelPrize in Physics.— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 8, 2019
Here Mayor is in the cafeteria of San Sebastian airport, looking at all the messages flooding in! pic.twitter.com/NCYcgZYUXx
2. Novelist Mario Vargas Llosa thought that it was a joke by a friend when he got a call from the Secretary General of the academy on winning the Literature Nobel in 2010.
According to the transcript of the interview with Adam Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Nobelprize.org, this is how Mario reacted when he got to know about the prize.
Adam Smith: Oh, hello, my name is Adam Smith. I’m calling from the Nobel Prize website in Stockholm. My congratulations on the news of the award.
Mario Vargas Llosa: Well, so, is it true then? Because, I received a call from the Secretary General of the Academy, and I was wondering if it was true or joke of a friend!
3. Economist Abhijit Banerjee went back to sleep after he got to know that he had won the Nobel in Economics for 2019.
Not being an early morning person, Indian-origin economist, Abhijit Banerjee decided to go back to sleep after receiving the call early in the morning.
It was very early in the morning. I’m not an early morning person. I figured it would be an assault to the system if I don’t continue my sleep.
4. Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie slept through the winning call at 6 in the morning and then woke up to find that he was the schnook who won the award.
He heard his phone ringing in the distance at 6 in the morning but assumed it was a neighbour’s. Later when he woke up at 10 and opened his laptop to check who was the schnook to win the Nobel in Chemistry, he found out he was the one.
I was the schnook!
5. Nobel Laureate Gerhard Ertl asked the editor-in-chief of the Nobel Committee to call him back in a couple of minutes because he was waiting for another call.
When Adam Smith, editor-in-chief of the Nobel Committee, called Gerhard Ertl to announce the Chemistry Nobel 2007, he said:
The problem is I’m waiting for a call from our Bundeskanzler, Frau Merkel, so could you call back in a couple of minutes perhaps?
He called again to deliver the news to him and Ertl said:
Ah, sorry, I’m still waiting for this other call.
6. Physicist Konstantin Novoselov was quite upset when he got a call for a telephonic interview because he was in the midst of taking some measurements.
He did give the interview but was quite upset about his experiment being interrupted.
So you’re basically saying that I should stop my experiments now.
No matter how weird these reactions seem to be, they are indeed priceless.