‘Dad, some guy is calling from Sweden’
In her book Reindeer with King Gustaf: What to Expect When Your Spouse Wins the Nobel Prize, Anita Laughlin, wife of physics Professor ROBERT LAUGHLIN, descibes the pomp, the wardrobe changes and the ways the prize changed her family’s life. But the heady journey began at their campus home.
“Twenty years after our first date, on October 12, 1998, the director of the Stanford News Service called Bob at his office to inform him that he was on an ‘even shorter list’ of possible recipients to win a Nobel Prize, and that Bob was to call him immediately if he heard anything,” she writes. “Bob promptly threw the phone number away, believing that Stanford could not possibly win a third year in a row” (STEVEN CHU 1997; DOUG OSHEROFF 1996). Laughlin goes on to write about the call that came the next morning and what transpired during the hours that followed – the couple’s 13-year-old son answering the call on his Mickey Mouse telephone, then sleepily announcing that “some guy” from Sweden was calling. She describes the onslaught of folks who showed up at their house in the wee hours of the morning.
“The prize had been announced at 6:00 a.m. Eastern Time, and 3:00 a.m. West Coast time. At 3:30 a.m., an intrepid JACK HUBBARD from the Stanford News Service knocked on the front door. With remarkable trust, because I was still in my bathrobe, I let him in. He was immaculately dressed. He asked where the phone was, tossed his own cell phone on the desk, and explained: ‘I am here to get you through the day. I am here to answer the phone, set up newspaper interviews, be Bob’s bodyguard and chauffeur. We need to keep him calm and not let things get overwhelming. I take my cues from you on this.'”
An excerpt of the book, published by Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, accompanies an audio interview (recorded in the studio of Stanford Video) on National Public Radio’s website.
And, by the way, ROBERT LAUGHLIN himself is scheduled to give a lecture this afternoon titled “Here Comes the Sun,” in which he will discuss some of the recent developments that have changed solar energy from a scientific toy to a serious technology. The lecture is scheduled to take place at 4:15 p.m. in the Hewlett Teaching Center, Room 201.