Mental Floss

Alanis Irony: Nobel Winner Dies Days Before Award Given

David K. Israel

It's like something out of that Alanis song:

An old man turned ninety-eight, He won the lottery and died the next day

Dr. Ralph M. Steinman won a Nobel yesterday for his breakthrough work in immunology, but died last Friday, days before the announcement was made. How sad is that? From the New York Times:

Nobel Prizes cannot be awarded posthumously. And so the Nobel committee, which had believed Dr. Steinman to be alive, faced a quandary. On Monday morning, one of Dr. Steinman’s daughters, Alexis, saw the e-mail from the Nobel Foundation and contacted Rockefeller University in New York, where her father had worked. The president of the university, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, immediately called the chairman of the Nobel Prize committee to inform him. Then the committee, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, scrambled to figure out what to do. As heartless as it might seem, would the prize for Dr. Steinman have to be revoked?

Well, after a lot of discussion, it was decided, rightfully if you ask me, that  Dr. Steinman’s award was made in good faith on the assumption that he was alive at the time of his election, and so he should receive it. For the full story, head over here. And big apologies to all if you now have that Alanis song stuck in your heads! Isn't it ironic that you would after reading a post about irony? (*wink*)