Trivia

Hard

The First (And So Far Only) Person To Win Both An Ig Nobel and Nobel Prize Is?

Linus Pauling
Wolfgang Ketterle
Charles Foster
Andre Geim
A live frog levitating inside the vertical bore of a Bitter solenoid in a magnetic field.
Lijnis Nelemans (High Field Magnet Laboratory, Radboud University Nijmegen)/Wikimedia

Answer: Andre Geim

“What’s the deal with the frog in the cup?” you may be asking yourself, looking at the picture here. And let us be the first to tell you, friend, that is not a frog in a cup, that is a frog being magnetically levitated in a magnetic chamber like a very organic and highly improbable desk toy. And, further, that’s not just any old frog in any old mad scientist’s magnetic laboratory, that’s Dr. Andre Geim’s frog, suspended in his laboratory, as a result of experiments with magnetism with Dr. Michael Berry.

Specifically, the two researchers were studying the direct diamagnetic levitation of water and, well, one thing led to another and, ultimately, the duo were awarded an Ig Nobel prize—a prize dedicated to unusual, interesting, or trivial scientific research—in 2000. While that research was certainly interesting, if that’s all there was to it, then perhaps our trivia question today would be “Who won an Ig Nobel prize for levitating frogs?”

The particularly interesting bit in our story doesn’t unfold for another ten years when, in 2010, Dr. Geim was awarded, alongside fellow researcher Dr. Konstantin Novoselov, the Nobel Prize in Physics for their breakthrough work with the wonder-material graphene. On the matter of being the first (and so far only) person to win both the prestigious Nobel prize and its humorous counterpart, Geim had this to say, “Frankly, I value both my Ig Nobel prize and Nobel prize at the same level and for me [the] Ig Nobel prize was the manifestation that I can take jokes, a little bit of self-deprecation always helps.”

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