A Scientist Promised To Bring His Kids "Next" Time He Won The Nobel Prize ... And Did
In 1956, American engineer John Bardeen won the Nobel Prize in physics. The prize was for his work on semiconductors (which would turn out to be pretty important in the decades to come) and the transistor effect (also very important we're sure, even if we don't understand what it is).
He received his medal at a ceremony in Sweden, which was marred by just one thing: The king pointed out that Bardeen had brought just one of his children to accompany him. Bardeen promised that he would bring all his kids along the very next time he won a Nobel Prize.
Then in 1972, he won the Nobel Prize in physics again. This time, the honor was for his work in superconductors. Superconductors are not to be confused with semiconductors—the latter's used in computers, and the former makes powerful magnets. Bardeen once again came to Sweden for the prize ceremony, and this time, he did indeed bring all three of his children. They were slightly older than when he'd made that promise.
To realize how surprising it was that Bardeen kept his promise, you need to realize that only four people in history have won multiple Nobel Prizes. One was Marie Curie, who clearly cheated by winning in physics and chemistry (save some fields for the rest of us, Marie). Another was Linus Pauling, who after winning chemistry, became an activist and won the Peace Prize. Only one person other than Bardeen won twice in the same field, and until 1972, no one had.
It's also lucky that the king, Gustaf VI Adolf, was still around to greet Bardeen in 1972, else this whole story would have been for nothing. Gustaf turned 90 in 1972 and would die the following year—probably, he was holding on solely to see Bardeen win another Nobel.
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