Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries Tagged as 'Nobel'

Another later, late-night Nobel party

December 11th, 2007 · Comments Off on Another later, late-night Nobel party

Another later, late-night Nobel party

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

This marble statue in Stockholm’s royal Palace is holding a flower and looking very much the way I feel right now.

It’s been a lovely and very long birthday today.

Tags: Nobel · Sweden · Wide wonderful world

In Second Life we both look even more glamorous

December 10th, 2007 · 1 Comment

In Second Life we both look even more glamorous

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Here is Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who opened a Swedish embassy in
Second Life and blogs every day.

What a role model! No wonder he has so many shiny gold medals!

I just posted a pile of my Nobel photos on Flickr and now I am going to sleep. Tomorrow’s my birthday.

No, wait–today is my birthday. Really time to sleep now!

Tags: Nobel · Sweden · Wide wonderful world

Betsy with a z

December 10th, 2007 · 3 Comments

This just in — at the Nobel banquet tonight “Betzy Devine Wilczek” will be walking down marble stairs with the charming and funny Barry Sharpless, who won a Nobel for chemistry in 2001.

And I also get to talk to, on my right, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, a former Prime Minister who opened a Swedish Embassy in Second Life. And he has a blog!

This is going to be just so much fun!

Tags: Nobel · Sweden

The ne-plus-ultra formal invitation…

December 9th, 2007 · Comments Off on The ne-plus-ultra formal invitation…

Stockholms Slott by night

Originally uploaded by bodilla77

… (at least in my life) starts with a golden crest and continues in engraved caps lock:




Professor and Mrs. … [redacted, next time could be you!]

to a Dinner



and so on and so on.

Of course we’re incredibly honored and said “Yes please,” in our most formalistic style (though without any CAPS LOCK).

(Not least because December 11 is my birthday!)

But don’t you think it sounds just the littlest bit as though the First Marshall is wishing we’d all just stay home?

Tags: Frank Wilczek · Nobel · Wide wonderful world

Nobelly laughs, please

December 9th, 2007 · Comments Off on Nobelly laughs, please

My fanciest dress-up

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Just a little anxiety going on here in Stockholm, where tomorrow is the huge Nobel Prize ceremony. And banquet.

Fortunately, I’m from New England so I still have all the lovely finery my sister RiRi helped me buy way back in 2004. (Our mother’s belief system, summed up in four lines: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without.”)

In fact, 2007 would be a whole lot less nervous for both me and Frank except that Anna Björk of Swedish TV 4 has invited us both to show up on her Nobel TV show which runs all day long.


Frank is on in the morning and will pick up his tailcoat en route home from the studio. My little spot is right before the ceremony, which means that at least I’ll be wearing my fanciest dress, which you can see in the photo. (I got dress anxiety at the worst possible moment, when Frank was in Paris giving lectures, so I took some photos so that I could ask his advice.)

And the brilliant Alex at Clipp-er Salong (Vasagatan 19, they are wonderful) has promised to do my hair in some nice way.

I will not have my huge favorite Timex digital watch on, at least not if I can remember to take the thing off.

I had been imagining this year’s Nobel Prize parties would be less stressful because 1) I’ve done this once now and 2) Frank is not getting a prize this year. But I think being on TV is a bit more scary even than sitting next to Sweden’s handsome and charming Prince Carl Philip,

The scariest part is that Frank seems to have told Anna that he and I took dancing lessons back in the US–and now it seems our dancing together might get on TV too, though only much later on the Nobel evening.

I am certainly better at dancing, much better, than I was before we took very enjoyable dance lessons from Jeff Allen. I am certainly not Dancing With the Stars caliber either.

Eek, I just have to say. Eek.

Though I am looking forward to every bit of it, even as I tremble.

Tags: Frank Wilczek · Nobel · Wide wonderful world

Bush makes time for Nobel laureates, including Al Gore

November 27th, 2007 · Comments Off on Bush makes time for Nobel laureates, including Al Gore

According to the Washington Post, George W Bush did something different this year when he “met” with Nobel Prize winners.

He actually met with them, or at least with one of them. And that one he met with was the President-elect of the year 2000 (at least by popular vote), Peace Prize winner Al Gore.

It’s easy to let eyes get hazy over this photo–just imagining how the whole world would be different if Al Gore had become US President back in 2000 instead of George W. Bush–starting, maybe, with a President who paid attention to memos with titles like “Bin Laden determined to strike in US.” Or at least a President

  • more focused on Bin Laden than on Saddam Hussein
  • with nobler priorities than cutting rich people’s taxes and killing Social Security
  • whose patriotism cares more about our Bill of Rights and less about flag pins

But that’s not how it turned out, and doesn’t George Bush look delighted!

Tags: Editorial · Nobel · politics

Nobel thanks Fert and Grünberg for my iPod

October 9th, 2007 · Comments Off on Nobel thanks Fert and Grünberg for my iPod

We walked home yesterday…

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

And the 2007 Nobel Prize goes to Albert Fert (France) and Peter Grünberg (Germany) “for the discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance” aka GMR.

If you have an iPod (or a recent hard disk) you should probably be thanking Fert and Grünberg too. The GMR effect, which they discovered, is the basis of the emergent technology of spintronics, based on changing the spin of electrons instead of shuffling charges around from place to place.

So, what does that photograph of clouds over Stockholm have to do with the Nobel Prize or GMR? Not much really–except perhaps very indirectly, by way of Einstein’s sense of the mysterious.

Tags: Nobel · Science · Wide wonderful world

Beautiful Valdivia of the beautiful rivers

January 11th, 2007 · Comments Off on Beautiful Valdivia of the beautiful rivers

“Valdivia is a little city with some big rivers flowing to the Pacific Ocean, not very far away. The riverfront market every day has lots of very fresh fish as well as farm vegetables, and raspberries for about 35 cents a basket. If you buy fish from one of the kind fisher-ladies, she guts them on her wood table and tosses the skin back over her shoulder to happy sea lions who wait in the river below.

We have a nice two-bedroom apartment, to get hot water you need to light the special hotwater heater, but it is really quite modern with a tv, lots of US shows with Spanish subtitles which (I like to think) will improve my Spanish if I watch them.”

That’s from some email I sent in 2001, during a previous visit to Valdivia, in southern Chile. In about an hour, we’re headed there again (three changes of airplane, about 24 hours door to door).

All absolutely worth it to be part of the party celebrating the inauguration of Chile’s wonderful Centro de Estudio Ciéntificos.

Then we head a bit further south, because we’ve been invited to ride around below Tierra del Fuego on a converted Chilean navy ship–a few days there, then another 24-hour trip home, then 24 hours to do all the laundry, and a 24-hour-ish flight to Japan.

If my younger self, who longed to travel the world, could see me now she’d be very satisfied.

BetsyAge11: Betsy Devine with big smile in apple tree, age 11.

Tags: Frank Wilczek · Nobel · Travel

Now something else to thank the Nobel people for…

February 22nd, 2006 · Comments Off on Now something else to thank the Nobel people for…

I didn’t know that the Nobel Foundation had posted a bunch of our family photos in Frank’s Nobel biography.

Regular readers of this blog have seen Frank with devil horns, posing with that notorious imp Richard Feynman, but I also really love this angelic photo of him giving a very long-ago talk.

Also, I must confess, the way I looked playing guitar in my early twenties

Tags: Frank Wilczek · My Back Pages · Nobel

A toast to Nobel on his birthday

December 11th, 2005 · Comments Off on A toast to Nobel on his birthday

…the accumulated wealth of science and literature, and the blessing of peace, often derive from efforts whose ultimate value isn’t immediately obvious. Even in cases where the real importance of some breakthrough is clear, it still might take years before the work yields any economic benefit; or, especially in literature, there may never be any conventional economic benefit at all. People who work toward increasing this special kind of wealth are devoting their careers to extremely long-term investments in the improvement of life for humanity as a whole. And what hardheaded businessperson or consumer will pay for that?

Yet history teaches us that such devotion to the long-term, and to the common good, pays off. The basic science of today becomes the technology of the future; the challenging literature of today provides the classics of the future; the difficult statecraft of today ensures the peace and prosperity of the future.

Of course, this excerpt is even better when read inside Frank’s amusing and touching after-dinnner talk at last night’s Nobel birthday dinner in NYC.

Tags: Nobel