Monday, December 03, 2007

The What Medal?

It's common in popular writing to use the Nobel Prize as a moniker for acts of genius, usually in a sarcastic way (“that certainly won't earn him a Nobel prize”). So it was with some shock that I saw an article today in the magazine CFO.com (aimed, naturally, at Chief Financial Officers) the following paragraph:

When it comes to rating the technological progress of office equipment, the telephone probably runs a close second to the stapler. Walk in to almost any place of business and you'll see the same rectangular boxes companies have been using for years. The only change has been a proliferation of blinking lights. If this qualifies as advanced technology, then the inventor of Lite-Brite deserves a Fields medal.

Curiously, I could have sworn that the print version (which I leafed through at a restaurant) said “Fields medal”, but the on-line version says “Fields metal”.

I realize financial folks are often quants, but it's still a curious reference.

2 comments:

leoc said...
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leoc said...

Remember the mainstream press attention to the Perelman flap the previous year. That coverage must have made the Fields medal a bit more of a household name. And if you talk about a "Nobel prize" people may assume you're nodding to the Peace Prize rather than the scientific prizes, so "Fields medal" is a more unambiguous way to say "genius prize".