TSA agents in Fargo, ND were incredulous when a Nobel Prize winner was carrying the medal in his carry-on.
The TSA didn’t exactly know how to respond to one of the Nobel Prize Winners, Brian Schmidt, carrying his medal on his carry-on bag.
Schmidt, who is a citizen of Australia, was visiting family in North Dakota. He reportedly carried the medal that he receives, which comes at a value of $10,000, with him in his carry-on, which is probably a good idea given recent accounts of theft from checked bags.
According to Schmidt, the TSA wasn’t exactly sure what the medal was, and when he explained it to them, they were very curious as to what Schmidt was doing in North Dakota.
The exchange was recently written about in The Telegraph:
“They said, ‘What’s in the box?’ I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.
“So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’ I said, ‘gold.’ And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’ ‘The King of Sweden.’ ‘Why did he give this to you?’ ‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’
“At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humour. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, ‘Why were you in Fargo?’”
Mr Schmidt, who had been to Fargo to visit his grandmother, said the staff were particularly suspicious as the gold in the medal gave it a somewhat unusual profile under the airport X-ray machine.
“It weighs a half a pound, and it’s made of gold… so it absorbs all the X-rays – it’s completely black. And they had never seen anything completely black.”
Schmidt was awarded his Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of dark matter, which describes the phenomenon of the expansion of space-time speeding up.
The award is given by Swedish and Norwegian committees. The prize for winning the honor is a medal, prize money, and a diploma.