Going Black Tie with the Rock Hounds

By Carl Zimmer | November 21, 2008 10:31 am

My experience with tuxedos has been limited to proms and weddings up until now, but today I’m renting a penguin suit for a most unexpected event: the geological equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Bet you didn’t know there was one! Actually, the Vetlesen Prize has been awarded every few years since 1959. This year’s winner is Walter Alvarez, who discovered the first clues that an asteroid plowed into the Earth 65 million years ago. The discovery was not just cool in and of itself, but changed the way scientists think about how surprising physical events can alter the course of evolution. I’ve spoken once to Alvarez on the phone, traded some email, and written the foreword to the new edition of his book, T. Rex and the Crater of Doom. So I’m excited to be suiting up today. I don’t think live-blogging is appropriate to the event, but I’ll report back once I’ve returned to civilian gear.

Image: The Vetlesen Prize site

CATEGORIZED UNDER: General, Writing Elsewhere

Comments (6)

Links to this Post

  1. | The Loom | Discover Magazine | November 22, 2008
  1. Anthro

    I can’t think of anyone more deserving than Walter Alvarez. His research captivated me from the time I first learned of it back in my undergrad days. Looking forward to hearing your take on the event.

  2. Mark

    I can’t think of any person who deserves this more in recent history, for changing how geology and paleontology are studied, while at the same time giving the non-specialists a “wow, that’s so cool!” view. Congratulations to Dr. Alvarez!

    But I am the only person who thinks the medal looks like a scene from an old kung fu movie? :-)

    Mark

  3. Mark, I totally thought it was an old Kung Fu master delivering a flying kick.

  4. Anthro

    Yes, that medal seems influenced by the martial arts…that should be warning enough never to underestimate geoscientists :)

  5. Dan Howitt

    “I can’t think of any person who deserves this more in recent history, for changing how geology and paleontology are studied, while at the same time giving the non-specialists a “wow, that’s so cool!” view. Congratulations to Dr. Alvarez!”

    I agree.

    Dan Howitt

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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.

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