Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, industrialist, and philanthropist, even though no one knows what those last two words mean. He had a whole bunch of patents in his lifetime, but he is most famous for two of his inventions. He created the Nobel Prize in his will, and while he was still alive, he created the greatest fishing tool ever known to man - dynamite.
Prior to the invention of dynamite, which is very stable, people had to blow things up with nitroglycerin, and they were forced to fish with a string on the end of a pole. Nitroglycerin was very unstable, so mostly what you blew up was yourself, and fishing with a string is very slow. Nobel solved both of those problems at once. You can bang the stick of dynamite around on the bottom of your boat all day long without fear of creating any sudden new holes in yourself or the vessel, and when you light that stick and toss it overboard, you can catch up to 200 fish at once.
For these reasons, Nobel became fabulously wealthy, and used that wealth in his will to fund the Nobel Prize, which consists of a whole bunch of people living off his money all year while they choose up to five worthy recipients in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace to receive a cash prize, a gold medal to wear at the grocery store and to bed, and a fairly cheap wooden plaque to hang at the office. The 2022 cash amount per Nobel prize is 10 million Swedish kronor, but in an effort to keep up with modern times, it will shift to one Bitcoin per prize in 2023, or approximately sixty-four U.S. cents.
Nobel prizes have been won for a lot of good inventions over the years, like insulin, cures for malaria, wireless telegraphy (telegraphy stuff without wires), and even cathode rays, which help with wireless telegraphy. They also give them out for literature, but that is a sore subject for me since they are very overdue in their consideration of my groundbreaking literary work with The Very Sneezy Garbage Truck.
My own personal animosity with the Nobel society aside, I’d like to point out a fact about the prize. Sure, they have recognized a lot of great inventions and works, but they are missing a huge opportunity to recognize and celebrate the little people that truly make life worth living. After all, it was Alfred Nobel’s dying wish that his award be given to "those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind."
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. The seat belt is great and everything, but I don’t think I’m alone in saying the heated seat has had a greater benefit on humankind. I’ve only needed my seatbelt to save my life a handful of times, but the heated seat has saved my wife’s life on countless occasions. This has consequently averted countless life-threatening situations for me, therefore conferring a great benefit to my own life.
What about the burrito? I think we can all agree that it has been a huge success, and I’m sure the inventor of the burrito is still enjoying his or her Nobel prize. But what about the breakfast burrito? What about the man or woman out there who looked at the standard lunch or dinner burrito and said, “This is great and all, but I can fill this thing with breakfast also, so you can have it for all three meals today.” I’m not sure there has ever been another human being more deserving of a Nobel prize than the breakfast burrito person, whomever they are.
And what about the person that invented the ice cream waffle cone? The TV remote control. Toilet paper. Disposable diapers. Putting lime in your beer when eating spicy tacos. Four-wheel drive. Yoga pants.
You see where I’m going here, Nobel Committee. Let’s start using some of that giant trust fund to recognize more of our true heroes.
They all deserve our gratitude. Especially the breakfast burrito person!
See you soon,
Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen
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