How to Win a Nobel Prize
It's October and once again I find myself canceling reservations for the Stockholm Motel 6. That's right, the Nobel Prize committee has announced this year's winners and my name wasn't among them.
It could be that my nomination got lost in the mail. Or that when they called in the middle of the night to tell me "You're a winner" I said, "Sure, Mr. McMahon, and you've had a career since Johnny retired", hung up the phone, and the rules say the prize goes to the next person on the list. Though to be honest, I think it's that they have trouble saying Galen Hund (my name in Swedish) with a straight face and, after all, Nobel Prizes are serious business.
That's exactly the problem with the Nobel Prizes -- they're too serious. They're not interested in everyday discoveries that help our lives, they prefer the esoteric. The more esoteric the better. They search for research which no one other than the prize committee can understand, and even then we know they're following the advice of The Surrendered Wife and faking it for the sake of the relationship.
They don't honor true advances in economics like the invention of No Money Down, No Interest For Six Months. Or medical advances like Preparation H With Calcium in New Country Fresh Scent. They like things that deal with molecules, theories, and incomprehensible books no one can finish.
For example, the Nobel Prize in Physics this year went to three researchers who supercooled 2,000 rubidium atoms so they lined up into a single wave, much like the fans at a football game waiting for the bathroom. If they were really that good they would have gotten the atoms to do The Wave. Then even I'd be impressed.
Interestingly, Einstein predicted that this was possible -- the atoms lining up, not the football fans -- yet he wasn't included in the award because of a technicality. He's dead. The scientists say this work "could be used" to create superprecise clocks and ultrafast computers. One day. Maybe. Unless they can think of something a little less useful to do with it before then.
The prize for economics went to three men who looked into the shortcomings of economic markets. Their theories help explain why consumers think better warranties mean a better product, why people buy used cars which are lemons, and why insurance companies have different rates for different people. I guess the old answers of "If they have more trust in it maybe I should too", "If I knew it was a lemon do you think I would have bought it?", and "I'm older, I have more health problems, and I'm probably going to die sooner" just don't hold water in the 21st century. But they studied these problems anyway, probably because they were afraid to explore the more probing question of why anyone studying economics would think they could make a living in that field. Whoever figures that one out is a shoo-in for next year's prize.
Then there's the prize for chemistry, which went to the three scientists who figured out a way to selectively choose which of two versions of a molecule will be created in a chemical reaction. See, it turns out that when they manufacture drugs, two forms of the molecule are often created. They have the same atomic structure but are mirror images of each other, often having different properties, with one being good and the other being bad. It's like Superman and Bizarro Superman. Or the Olsen Twins. The scientists figured out a way to cause the chemical reaction and create only the molecule they want. It's like being able to choose Ginger over Maryanne. And getting her every time.
You'll notice that each of these prizes went to groups of three men. That's another reason I feel like I've been overlooked: I only have two personalities. As soon as I fully develop that third one I'm sure they'll have to give me something. Of course it might be Prozac. But I'm not relying on multiple personalities to clinch a Nobel Prize, that would be too much like charity. That's why I'm submitting some of my research now for consideration next year.
Economics -- I've discovered the reason deficit spending only works for the government. When I try it people call me at all hours of the night demanding I pay up immediately or they'll repossess my Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine, so I borrow money from another new credit card that's offering 1.013 percent interest for the next six months and pay off the old one. Of course six months later they're back. When collection people call to nag the government for payments, they're told, "Hey, we're not responsible for that deficit, call the previous administration." Since the collection people have no clue who to wake up at 3 A.M. to threaten, they give up and call me again. It's an offshoot of Trickle Down Theory.
Physics -- Light isn't a particle or a wave, it's made of feathers. After all, the sun gives off light. Feathers are light. Therefore, the sun gives off feathers. And to prove it, I'm sleeping like a baby thanks to the new light-filled pillow and light-filled comforter I made.
Medicine -- An apple a day doesn't keep the doctor away, HMOs do since they won't cover the cost of a house call.
Chemistry -- Okay, I don't have this quite solved yet but I'm close. When I announce that I've figured out why it takes three times as long to toast English Muffins as it does any other bread the prize is mine, baby.
Peace -- The other day I let a guy who was driving like a maniac cut in front of me on the highway. Sure he was bigger than I was, had a Glock 9mm in his hand, and looked like Dennis Hopper doing a Crispin Glover imitation, but that's not the point. I helped keep the peace.
Literature -- I have two words to say to the Nobel committee: "This column."
I sure hope the Stockholm Motel 6 has a room available for me next year.
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