daily californian logo


Nobel Prizes for the unaccomplished

article image


Masha Andreyeva/File


We're an independent student-run newspaper, and need your support to maintain our coverage.

OCTOBER 12, 2016

Theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions, ending a 50-year-long civil war, the synthesis of molecular machines — these are the accomplishments that garnered Nobel Prizes in 2016. Their achievements are truly modern miracles of thought. While this year’s winners showcase their world-changing achievements, we at UC Berkeley continue to toil simply to finish a problem set. Yet there are still certain figures at UC Berkeley whose achievements are similarly miraculous. They might not get their own parking spots, but they still deserve some form of recognition. We at the Clog think that you, the common student, have achievements comparable in each category to those oh-so-acclaimed Nobel Prize winners.


Consuming five plates, three big bowls, two little bowls, two cups and a mug worth of food and drinks from Crossroads is a feat in itself, but the real feat is getting all of those dishes back to the dish return all at once. The average person looks at your mountain of dishes, napkins and silverware and accepts defeat, but you are no average person. You carried that teetering stack at the perfect balance point all the way to the dish return, an accomplishment that can only be deemed a modern miracle in the field of physics.


It seems like every class has at least one person with an uncontrollable cough. We internally cringe with each cough, while at the same time understanding that we have all been in the same position. Most of us are weak-willed and give in to the cough with little resistance, but there are a few silent heroes of the medicine world who suffer quietly to suppress a cough. You valued the peace of the class and the suppression of germs over your own discomfort. Your act of selflessness and humanity can only be met with the prize in medicine.


The prize in chemistry goes to an underappreciated kitchen commodity — the hot water kettle. Although it performs the most basic task in chemistry, boiling water, it performs it so reliably that it is the only recipient worthy of this award. Kettles fuel the consumption of ramen, the staple of a college student’s existence. Feeding an entire population is as noble a cause as any.


After a long night of partying, you wake up the next morning to find that you’ve texted your ex. A wave of horror washes over you as you reluctantly open the messages to see what you wrote. But much to your surprise, you sounded very composed. Not only that, but your grammar was perfect. Turning this drunken disastrous situation into a sober success story is exactly the kind of inspiring narrative that deserves the prize in literature.


Most of us spend our meal points at will. Every so often, we check our balance just to see how much is left and usually the total is disappointing. But not for the recipients of the prize in economics — you always have exactly how many meal points you expected to have. You did the calculations. You know how much to spend each day. Pangs of hunger cannot sway your strict dedication to the most efficient method of spending meal points, and for that you are recognized with the most prestigious unaccredited award of the year.


We all have people in discussions who, in everyone’s opinion, should never talk. Unfortunately, they talk all of the time. But the peace prize winners either respond respectfully, or don’t respond at all. Maybe you’re naturally level-headed. Maybe you’ve simply given up on trying to reason with this person. Either way, you understand that everyone has a right to voice their opinion, even if that opinion is completely wrong.

Contact Ryan Melvin at [email protected].

OCTOBER 11, 2016