Beer Pipeline

The Myth of Niels Bohr’s Beer Pipeline

 News        06/28/2021

The Danish physicist Niels Bohr, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922 and helped develop the first atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project, had a long and successful scientific career. As a reward for his hard work, and especially for the Nobel, the Danish brewery Carlsberg gave him a house with an installed beer pipeline, so that he could enjoy free beer for the rest of his life.

These days, (again) this story, which has been written about by Forbes, Money Control and the Guardian, and Vinepair, has been spreading (again) over the virtual reality. It was a perfectly fitting reward for someone who helped build our basic knowledge of how the universe works. The only problem with that story is that it's not entirely true. "

“The story of Bohr’s beer tap is an urban myth or at best a joke of some of his contemporaries”

“The story of Bohr’s beer tap is an urban myth or at best a joke of some of his contemporaries,” Dr. Christian Joas told Vinepair magazine, adding that he knows something about Niels Bohr. Namely, Joas is the director of the Niels Bohr Archives and an associate professor in the Department of Scientific Education at the University of Copenhagen. "In the 1930s, beer that passed through pipes of tens of meters or more would certainly have a bad taste, and we can say with certainty that such a pipeline did not exist, but it is true that Niels Bohr received a life annuity from Carlsberg Brewery in the form of kegs, bottles and crates of beer, which were delivered to him from 1932 until his death in 1962. "

According to Joas, Bohr moved into the honorary Carlsberg residence in 1932, which was originally built for Jacob Christian Jacobsen, the founder of the Carlsberg brewery. The house was not given to Bohr, as it is said in the urban legend, but he had the right to use it for life. There is another anecdote about that rent in beer. Namely, after moving into the house near Niels Bohr, a representative of the brewery stopped by and asked him how many beers a day he wanted to be delivered to him. Bohr said: 12, thinking of bottles, but the brewery started delivering 12 crates a day to him and that lasted for a while until the misunderstanding was corrected.

And as for the origin of the story of the beer pipeline at Bohr's house, Martyn Poliakoff, a professor of chemistry at Nothingham University, who has a Periodic Videos channel on You Tube, is most likely to blame. In 2011, he published a video in which he discusses the origin of the element bohrium, named after Niels Bohr, and mentions the urban legend of beer. When asked where he got it from, he replied that he believed he had read it in Richard Rhodes ’book Creating an Atomic Bomb.

However, there is no story in question in that book, so it remains that Poliakoff heard the story from some other source or that the story of Bohr’s personal sparkling liquid pipeline is the result of the imagination of some creative narrator. In any case, it has become an indispensable anecdote about the rich life of a famous scientist.

Tags

Niels Bohr   Denmark   bohrium   Carlsberg   pipeline   myth   Nobel Prize  
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