Monday, October 21, 2013

John Bardeen and the King of Sweden

Today I dediced to write about John Bardeen (1908 - 1991) [1], brilliant American Physicist.
Up to the moment, he is the only person who has ever won the Nobel Prize in Physics, twice!!!

The first time in 1956 together with  William Schockley (1910 - 1989) and Walter Brattain (1902 - 1987) for the invention of the transistor (that simply revolutionized the electronic industry!!!) ...

... and again in 1972 with Leon N Cooper (born 1930 - ) and John Robert Schrieffer (born 1931) for the theory of conventional supercoductivity, known ad BCS theory (from their intitials).

About John Bardeen there is a very funny anectode, that I heard the first time from one of my Physics Teacher at the University.

The first time that Bardeen received the Nobel Prize, at the ceremony in Stockholm he brought only one of his three children. A pretty unsual thing, since you would bring, probably, all your beloved ones to such an event.  King Gustaf VI chided him because of this, and in reaction, Bardeen told him that he would bring all the family, the next timeCould you believe it???

Before you think he was a very arrogant man, the motivation behind the decision was that he didn't
want to disrupt the other two sons' studies at Harvard[1]. As my teacher said, for Bardeen, a brilliant mind, education and pursuit of knowledge were two extremely valuable things, and nothing, not even a Nobel Prize, is a good reason to stop them.

And let me just remind you, that, eventually, he kept his promise to King Gustaf VI: at the second Nobel Prize cerimony he brought all his family. So he wasn't arrogant either! Just extremely self-confident!

John Bardeen postage stamp
Image credit: USPS (via Tumble Home Learning )

Bonus curiosity

I am not sure that you noted but the scientist Leon N Cooper has an "N without dot" in its name. That's correct. N stands for N
Strange yes, true also! :)

[3] Tumble Home Learning


Anonymous said...

Lovely anecdote!!!
Wanted to write a longer email today, but couldn´t find time unfortunately... maybe see you next week?
Best regards,

eddie said...

Ciao Sylvia! Thanks for your comment!
Definitely we will see each other this week, when exactly... I don't know yet :)
A presto!