Nobel Prize Winner 1; TSA 0

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Most Nobel Prize Winners Are Brilliant. Most TSA Agents Are…Less So.

In 2011, astrophysicist Brian Schmidt won the  Nobel Physics Prize for being really, really smart. We’d explain what he received the award for, but he does it better and telling you now would spoil the fun.


After he’d been awarded the medal, which he describes as, “…about that big, that thick [he mimes a disk roughly the size of an Olympic medal], weighs a half a pound, and it’s made of gold”, Schmidt’s grandmother, who lives in Fargo, North Dakota, wanted to see it. Like any good grandson, he flew out to Fargo and showed it to her.

It was at the start of the return leg of the journey that Schmidt and his medal hit a little snag; the TSA. Scientific American reports:

You would think that carrying around a Nobel Prize would be uneventful, and it was uneventful, until I tried to leave Fargo with it, and went through the X-ray machine. I could see they were puzzled. It was in my laptop bag. It’s made of gold, so it absorbs all the X-rays—it’s completely black. And they had never seen anything completely black.

They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’
I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’
They said, ‘What’s in the box?’
I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.
So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’
I said, ‘gold.’
And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’
‘The King of Sweden.’
‘Why did he give this to you?’
‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’
At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humor. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, ‘Why were you in Fargo?’

…and we suppose that’s why it’s called flyover country.

Tristan Pinnock, Blast Science Correspondent

Tristan's just this guy, ya know?