Friday, December 9, 2011

"Believe in your Science" ~ Official Nobel Press Conference

Official Nobel Press Conference at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

At the official Nobel Prize press conference this morning at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Nobel Laureate Dan Shechtman said that his loneliness in the academic world did not break his spirit, because he believed in his science. Prof. Shechtman’s personal journey to the Nobel Prize began in 1982 when the scientific community refused to recognize his discovery of quasicrystals. Today there are books and conferences dedicated to the study of quasicrystals, and the ultimate recognition with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
“Today a new chapter to the discovery is evolving. For example, physicists are developing optics with quasiperiodic arrays whose uses and applications are unknown at the present time,” said Prof. Shechtman.                                      

In response to a question about the Technion’s success in producing three Nobel Prize winners in seven years, Prof. Shechtman said: “I have been associated with the Technion for half a century. First as a student and then as a faculty member. In the early days it was not easy to be admitted to the university, and even more difficult to be a student there. In my day, if you failed one course, you had to repeat the whole year. But our graduates know that they receive the best training in engineering and high-technology.”
He added that the quality of incoming faculty members at the highest level is also an important factor to consider. The Technion looks for those who have a chance to do great science — but global competition is fierce. To entice potential faculty to come to Haifa, the Technion provides top funding for state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment as well as highly trained graduate students.
His final point was that while is important to understand how Nobel Laureates are produced, it is also important to look at how a country educates its base. He admitted that the State of Israel faces challenges in how to best educate its young people, and he shared his plans to work to improve the situation and encourage greater governmental investment in education at all levels.

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