Lucia Verses

Prof. Robert B. Laughlin
Department of Physics
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305

This is a short "history" of Prof. Laughlin's experiences receiving the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics. He wrote it during the final days of the long university tour that followed Nobel week. It is sung to the tune of Santa Lucia.

1. Santa Lucia's
Worshiped in Sweden
Rather obsessively
During the solstice.
They sing a carol
That's really simple.
It's quite a catchy tune.
You can't forget it.
2. Our little story
Starts in October
When sleeping in my bed
I got The Phone Call.
Or more precisely
Some guy from Sweden
Rang my son's mickey phone
Then had him wake us.
In fact when your eye shuts
Its sound will drive you nuts.
You can give up hope of sleeping!
Santa Lucia!
"I have a big surprise!
You've won the Nobel Prize
With your colleagues Tsui and Störmer.
Santa Lucia!"

3. "We are your colleagues
Hagstrom and Jonson.
This call is not a prank
In case you're wondering.
We would advise you
Dress and have breakfast
Before all hell breaks loose,
Which it will shortly.
4. Then we called Stanford
Told them the good news
They sent their handler
Mr. Jack Hubbard.
He intercepted
All of the phone calls
And told us Clinton jokes
That were quite filthy.
Soon as the press release
You will have no more peace.
Everyone will try to phone you.
Santa Lucia!"
Then came the interviews
Which we dared not refuse.
They would always ask the same things.
Santa Lucia!

5. "We'd like to find out
What you are feeling,
How you were notified,
Plans for the money.
Would you please tell us
What your work's good for
In laymen's terms without
Quantum mechanics?
6. Some days thereafter
I got a package
Crammed full of Nobel stuff
From the Foundation.
There was a program,
Rules for the guest list,
Transfer of Copyright,
and a nice bank form.
We in the third estate
Always stress things you hate
Because dumbed-down stories sell well.
Santa Lucia!"
But one thing gave me grief,
It was beyond belief,
Only ten seats for the banquet!
Santa Lucia!

7. I found some fine print
That said to e-mail
Mrs. Fallenius
For information.
She answered promptly
But for nine time zones
That I would have to beg
Christina Tillfors.
8. They also offered
For me and my guests
Cheap fares on SAS
From here to Stockholm.
I called up Pat Kross,
Their sales agent,
Pointed out cheaper fares
On other airlines.
I sent her pleading mails.
But she was tough as nails.
Tillfors would not budge a micron.
Santa Lucia!
She asked her management
If some rules could be bent
They said yes and gave more discounts.
Santa Lucia!

9. Then in November
I got an e-mail
From my new attache
Ms Anja Lind.
She was real savvy
And was attached to
The Foreign Ministry
Where she did crypto.
10. Finally the day came
To fly to Stockholm.
We woke up in the dark
When it was drizzling.
Our teenage sons liked
Going to the airport
In a big limousine
Complete with wet bar.
She saw to all our wants,
And booked us restaurants.
Nothing would have worked without her.
Santa Lucia!
We met our parents there,
Switched airlines in O'Hare,
Then we flew across the north pole.
Santa Lucia!

11. We soon arrived at
Arlanda Airport
And were met at the gate
By Nobel people.
They whisked us off to
A special lounge that's
Reserved for diplomats
There we met Anja.
12. We left the airport
In our own limo
Drove to the Grand Hotel
In downtown Stockholm.
We got a big room
With wooden decor
Right on the waterfront
Opposite Old Town.
We were spared passport cops
And had some photo ops.
Also someone fetched our luggage.
Santa Lucia!
This room was way too hot.
It was like Angor Wat.
So we opened all the windows.
Santa Lucia!

13. Next day we went to
Hans Allde's clothes shop
To check the fit of our
White tie and tails.
Lurking downstairs was
A paparazzo
Who took a photograph
Of me undressing.
14. Our next engagement
Was a news conference
Held for the laureates
Excluding doctors.
It didn't go well
As it got hijacked
By the economist
Whose field was welfare.
It was quite indiscreet,
So quickly hit the street.
Folks in Denmark said they'd seen it.
Santa Lucia!
Also the Swedish press
Judged our stuff meaningless.
We all thought they needed pieing.
Santa Lucia!

15. Then we went on to
A nice reception
At the Academy
Which was more pleasant.
It featured wine and
Good salmon pastries.
The wall had portraits of
Folks like Linnaeus.
16. Next day we gave our
Nobel addresses
In a big lecture hall
Called Aula Magna.
Of course, as usual,
I was not ready
And made my overheads
Moments beforehand.
With this we started on
An eating marathon.
The result was big time weight gain.
Santa Lucia!
Horst and Dan did not yell.
By then they knew me well.
They just offered pens and plastics.
Santa Lucia!

17. After my lecture
I met the hosts of
A local kiddie show
Called Hjarnkontoret.
I went with these folks
Down to the basement
And by the synchrotron
Answered their questions.
18. Next day we went to
A formal luncheon
With the Ambassador,
Olsen from Texas.
He had a drawl and
Swedish ancestors,
And would have served us ribs
Had it been summer.
"Hi kids in TV land!
No you can't understand
What we did until you're older.
Santa Lucia!"
They had us take our seat
Then brought too much to eat.
Then we left for a reception.
Santa Lucia!

19. That night we drove to
Yet one more restaurant
And for all thirty guests
Ordered a Julbord.
It went from glogg to
Cheeses and meat balls,
Five different kinds of lox,
Herring and reindeer.
20. Then came the big day.
We donned our good clothes:
Men in white tie and tails,
Women in ball gowns.
Each of the ladies
Got hair appointments
That cost a hundred bucks
But made them gorgeous.
But we declined to risk
Eating the lutefisk.
It would have been bad to throw up.
Santa Lucia!
Finally we met downstairs
To people's gaping stares.
Then we went to get our Prizes.
Santa Lucia!

21. One need not dwell on
The ceremony.
It was all televised,
And we were rated.
I came in second,
Tying with Störmer.
I would have won the thing
But I flunked bowing.
22. Then we went right to
The Nobel banquet
Held in the City Hall
In a big courtyard.
There we found placards,
Rose petal sculptures,
Medals of chocolate,
And skinny thorn balls.
They honored each of us
Then played Sibelius.
I thought Mom was going to lose it.
Santa Lucia!
They brought us chicken breast
Brutally squeezed and pressed,
And a quite impressive ice cream.
Santa Lucia.

23. Then we went upstairs
To take some pictures
And meet Their Majesties
Behind a rope fence.
Then came news sessions
In which they asked me
If I believed in God
And such like questions.
24. We left the dancing
Just before midnight,
And in our limousine,
Drove to the Nightcap.
This was a party
Run by the students
Of Stockholm's business school.
Also a disco.
This was a dirty trick.
I had to escape quick.
So I went and did some dancing.
Santa Lucia!
It was a den of sin
So we all wanted in.
I was much too old to be there.
Santa Lucia!

25. Next day at noon we
Managed to get to
The Royal Library
In time for filming.
We were asked questions
About Big Business
And whether science has
Soul or a conscience.
26. That night we went to
The Royal Palace
For dinner with the King
And his attendants.
We learned that he's not
Really a good shot
So that the venison
Was bagged by others.
This slowly made us mad.
We sensed that we'd been had.
So we did our best to sink them.
Santa Lucia!
Also by his decrees
Kings can cut Christmas trees
Although normal people cannot.
Santa Lucia!

27. Next day we went to
Alfred's Foundation
To transfer to our banks
All the prize money.
We checked accounts and
Got our gold medals,
Signed a certificate,
Then got some bad news.
28. Finally there came the
Lucia banquet
Where folks get stinking drunk,
Even the grandmas.
There were loud songs and
Serious skoaling,
Skits in two languages
And frequent "phone calls".
"Since they demand no less
We've told the IRS
The whole figure of your winnings.
Santa Lucia!"
It was an endless slog
To get that little frog
How we made it home I don't know.
Santa Lucia!

29. Next day began our
Traveling road show.
We rose at five o'clock
Very hung over.
We took our limo
Right to the airport
Then flew to Gothenberg
For a performance.
30. Then came the long march:
First Lund and Malmo,
Then on the hydrofoil
Over to Denmark,
Then to a hotel
In Copenhagen
Opposite Tivoli,
Then to Helsinki.
They thought our lectures deep
But we just needed sleep.
Thank God we were free the next day.
Santa Lucia!
This was a hellish trip
Of which I recall zip,
But we had to plug for science.
Santa Lucia!

31. Then it was over.
We flew to Stockholm,
Got a nice hotel room,
Watched the impeachment.
Next day we took off
Over the north pole,
Followed the setting sun
Back home to Stanford.
Thus ends our Nobel song.
I'm sad it took so long.
Hope you found it entertaining!
Santa Lucia!