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Nobel prize banquet and peace prize Speeches 2012:


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Mind you these are all just informative. Discussions in regards to political messages is directed to A51, discussions in regards to science is most welcome.

 

 

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2012

 

Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland

 

Serge Haroche's speech at the Nobel Banquet, 10 December 2012.

 

 

Your Majesties, your Royal Highnesses, Dear Friends and Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me, at the close of this wonderful banquet, evoke the memory of Erwin Schrödinger. His work has had an impact on all the fields of science and culture celebrated tonight. He received the Nobel prize in Physics in 1933 for finding the equation which explains the behavior of matter at the quantum level. Schrödinger's equation also accounts, at least in principle, for the structure of all the molecules studied in chemistry and biology. It has also a strong influence on the world economy. Most of the devices which have changed our lives are based on quantum physics, from the laser to the transistor, from the GPS to the cell phone, from the magnetic resonance imaging to the global communication network. Schrödinger's equation is essential to explain the workings of these technological marvels, whose sales reach billions of dollars.

What about Schrödinger's merits in literature? He may not have written any novel, but he invented a character about which a lot has been written in many books, a character which has even featured in movies, generating endless metaphysical discussions. I am of course referring to the legendary Schrödinger's cat, suspended between life and death by the laws of quantum physics and its superposition principle. In his famous thought experiment, Schrödinger could have chosen an inanimate object or a less lovable living being, a cockroach for instance. Just think about it. What about Schrödinger's cockroach? The story would have been as demonstrative to explain the strange logic of the quantum world, but much less impressive. By the stroke of genius of choosing the right animal in the right dramatic situation, and by having fathered an immortal character as famous as the Cheshire cat of Alice in Wonderland, Schrödinger has made an impact on the world culture.

My fondness for this quantum feline is of course biased. David Wineland and I have been awarded the Nobel Prize for creating miniature versions of this famous cat, made of a few atoms or photons. We have both been accompanied in our long research adventure by wonderful colleagues, without whom we would never have succeeded. We are very glad that many of them are here this evening. Other groups in the world are also working in this field, raising various ersatz of laboratory cats and trying to preserve as long as possible their quantumness. What is the future of these cats? One easy - may be too easy - answer, is that they will turn into a quantum computer. I don't know. I rather guess that they will lead to some unforeseen application, even more astonishing than this mythical machine. When the minister Gladstone asked Faraday what his research on electricity could be good for, the nineteen century physicist replied "One day, sir, you may tax it”. We are tempted to give our politicians the same answer: "One day, you may tax Schrödinger's cat".

I must add though that, if someone was dubious about the taxability of his cat, it was Schrödinger. Not believing that it would one day be possible to really perform such experiments, he once wrote: "We never experiment with just one electron, or atom or small molecule. In thought experiments, we assume that we do; this invariably entails ridiculous consequences”. In spite of the admiration we have for Schrödinger, my friend David Wineland and I must on this point disagree with him: for us, the consequences, culminating in this magnificent evening, have been far from ridiculous!

 

Edited by Ron/Nathaniel Hawk
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The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2012

 

Robert J. Lefkowitz, Brian K. Kobilka

 

Robert J. Lefkowitz's speech at the Nobel Banquet, 10 December 2012.

 

Your majesties, your royal highnesses, your excellences, ladies and gentleman,

To stand before this assembly as a Nobel Laureate in the midst of these gala and festive surroundings, is simultaneously daunting, exhilarating, empowering, and most of all humbling. It is a remarkable moment, one to be savored. It is also a moment in which to feel a profound sense of gratitude. And on behalf of Brian Kobilka and myself, I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Nobel Foundation for making all of this possible, and to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for selecting us as the 2012 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry. Our gratitude extends as well, to our collaborators and to the many dozens of students and fellows whose work in our laboratories is also honored by this award. We also thank our families, who are with us today for their unflagging support of our often obsessive involvement with our work, especially our wives Tong Sung Kobilka and Lynn Lefkowitz. Tong Sung is not just Brian’s wife, but she has worked alongside him in the laboratory both as his technical assistant, dating back to his days in my laboratory more than 25 years ago, and for many years as his closest colleague and cheerleader, especially on his riskiest and most challenging projects.

No doubt, each Laureate’s experience of receiving the Nobel Prize is unique. For me, one of the most poignant aspects relates to sharing this award with a former fellow of mine. I don’t know how often a Nobel Prize is shared by a mentor and former trainee, but perusing the list of recent winners suggests that it is a reasonably common occurrence. This highlights an aspect of science which is very important to both Brian and me, the mentoring of young trainees. I have trained more than 200 students and fellows in my lab over the past 40 years, and a number of mine and Brian’s trainees have traveled to Stockholm to share this experience with us. They are in a very real sense a second family. Many of our trainees are major leaders in our field of science, a source of enormous pride for both of us.

But of course the annual award of the Nobel Prizes has significance that reaches far beyond the individual experiences of the Laureates. For those of us in the sciences, we watch with delight as every October the eyes of the entire world focus, if only transiently, on the power of discoveries in chemistry, physics, medicine, physiology, and economics to shape our lives.. However, as an American Scientist, and now Nobel Laureate, I have never been more aware or more appreciative of this effect of the Prize announcements. We have just had a Presidential election in the United States. One of the fault lines in the campaign was the role that science plays in shaping public policy decisions. A clear anti-science bias was apparent in many who sought the presidential nomination of one of our major political parties. This was manifest as a refusal to accept for example, the theory of evolution, the existence of global warming, much less of the role of humans in this process, the value of vaccines or of embryonic stem cell research. Each of us Laureates aspires in our own small way to do what we can to counter these pernicious anti-scientific trends.

The work for which Brian and I are recognized today is the elucidation of the largest class of cellular receptors. These are the molecules on cells with which hormones, neurotransmitters, and other biologically active molecules interact, and they are the commonest target of therapeutic drugs such as opiates, beta blockers, and antihistamines, to mention just a few.

Our work lies at the ever growing interface of chemistry and biology, a field generally referred to as biochemistry or biological chemistry, which is the Chemistry of living things. In this context, it is of note that Brian and I both began our careers as physicians, and have ultimately traveled a long road to ever more fundamental research, one which has now led us to the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. To me it seems very much the fulfillment of an aspiration so beautifully expressed in a line from a poem entitled Ithaca by the Greek poet Constantine Cafavy, which has been taped above my desk for many, many years. It reads, “When you set out on your journey to Ithaca, pray that the road is long, full of adventure, full of knowledge.”

I can tell you this ... it certainly has been so far.

Brian and I thank all of you for celebrating this journey with us.

 

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The Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

 

Mo Yan

 

Mo Yan's speech at the Nobel Banquet, 10 December 2012 (which is not really correct, considering he forgot his speech at the hotel, and was just saying what he remembered of it.. although this was only noticed by those speaking mandarin.)

 

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

For me, a farm boy from Gaomi's Northeast Township in far-away China, standing here in this world-famous hall after having received the Nobel Prize in Literature feels like a fairy tale, but of course it is true.

My experiences during the months since the announcement have made me aware of the enormous impact of the Nobel Prize and the unquestionable respect it enjoys. I have tried to view what has happened during this period in a cool, detached way. It has been a golden opportunity for me to learn about the world and, even more so, an opportunity for me to learn about myself.

I am well aware that there are many writers in the world who would be more worthy Laureates than I. I am convinced that if they only continue to write, if they only believe that literature is the ornament of humanity and a God-given right, "She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown." (Proverbs 4:9)

I am also well aware that literature only has a minimal influence on political disputes or economic crises in the world, but its significance to human beings is ancient. When literature exists, perhaps we do not notice how important it is, but when it does not exist, our lives become coarsened and brutal. For this reason, I am proud of my profession, but also aware of its importance

I want to take this opportunity to express my admiration for the members of the Swedish Academy, who stick firmly to their own convictions. I am confident that you will not let yourselves be affected by anything other than literature.

I also want to express my respect for the translators from various countries who have translated my work. Without you, there would be no world literature. Your work is a bridge that helps people to understand and respect each other.

Nor, at this moment, can I forget my family and friends, who have given me their support and help. Their wisdom and friendship shines through my work.

Finally, I wish to extend special thanks to my older relatives and compatriots at home in Gaomi, Shandong, China. I was, am and always will be one of you. I also thank the fertile soil that gave birth to me and nurtured me. It is often said that a person is shaped by the place where he grows up. I am a storyteller, who has found nourishment in your humid soil. Everything that I have done, I have done to thank you!

My sincere thanks to all of you!

 

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The Sveriges Riksbank Prize for Economic Science in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2012

 

Alvin E. Roth, Lloyd S. Shapley

 

Alvin E. Roth's speech at the Nobel Banquet, 10 December 2012.

 

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellencies, Laureates and Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

We all know the wonderful image popularized by Isaac Newton, of how he could see so far only because he stood on the shoulders of giants. That image describes well how my work has built on that of my predecessors, particularly Lloyd Shapley, with whom I share this prize, and the late David Gale.

We need a different metaphor to capture how we benefit from our teachers, our contemporaries, our colleagues and coauthors and students.

Perhaps we not only stand on the shoulders of giants, but we are like acrobats in a giant human pyramid. We are surrounded by those on whose shoulders we stand, by those who helped us climb up and who hold us in place, and by those still further up whom we helped climb beyond us, each turning 'into a ladder-rung for the next', to borrow an image from last year's Nobel laureate in Literature.

Or maybe a useful metaphor for a scientific career would be athletics. The athlete begins by being coached how to play, and over a career moves from team player, to team leader, to coach. The level of the game keeps rising and the coaching becomes better, as the community learns from its accumulated experience.

Maybe we could think of science as being like a nuclear chain reaction, in which people and ideas bounce off each other, and if critical mass is reached, a new field is formed.

My point is that in the midst of this beautiful celebration of scientific and literary accomplishment; let's pause over dinner to remember one of the fundamental lessons of economics, that accomplishments are social as well as singular. Lets revel in the memories not only of discovery and invention, but of all the sometimes illuminating, sometimes stressful, sometimes tedious, and sometimes thrilling human interactions that brought us here tonight, and will inspire and fortify us when we return to work.

 

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The Nobel Peace Prize 2012:

 

European Union

 

Presentation Speech by Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Commitee, Oslo, 10 December 2012.

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Heads of State, Heads of Government, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Honourable Presidents of the European Union,

At a time when Europe is undergoing great difficulties, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to call to mind what the European Union means for peace in Europe.

After the two world wars in the last century, the world had to turn away from nationalism and move in the direction of international cooperation. The United Nations were formed. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted.

For Europe, where both world wars had broken out, the new internationalism had to be a binding commitment. It had to build on human rights, democracy, and enforceable principles of the rule of law. And on economic cooperation aimed at making the countries equal partners in the European marketplace. By these means the countries would be bound together so as to make new wars impossible.

The Coal and Steel Community of 1951 marked the start of a process of reconciliation which has continued right to the present day. Beginning in Western Europe, the process continued across the east-west divide when the Berlin Wall fell, and has currently reached the Balkans, where there were bloody wars less than 15 to 20 years ago.

The EU has constantly been a central driving force throughout these processes of reconciliation.

The EU has in fact helped to bring about both the “fraternity between nations” and the “promotion of peace congresses” of which Alfred Nobel wrote in his will.

The Nobel Peace Prize is therefore both deserved and necessary. We offer our congratulations.

In the light of the financial crisis that is affecting so many innocent people, we can see that the political framework in which the Union is rooted is more important now than ever. We must stand together. We have collective responsibility. Without this European cooperation, the result might easily have been new protectionism, new nationalism, with the risk that the ground gained would be lost.

We know from the inter-war years that this is what can happen when ordinary people pay the bills for a financial crisis triggered by others. But the solution now as then is not for the countries to act on their own at the expense of others. Nor for vulnerable minorities to be given the blame.

That would lead us into yesterday’s traps.

Europe needs to move forward.

Safeguard what has been gained.

And improve what has been created, enabling us to solve the problems threatening the European community today.

This is the only way to solve the problems created by the financial crisis, to everyone’s benefit.

In 1926, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to the Foreign Ministers of France and Germany, Aristide Briand and Gustav Stresemann, and the following year to Ferdinand Buisson and Ludwig Quidde, all for their efforts to advance Franco-German reconciliation.

In the 1930s the reconciliation degenerated into conflict and war.

After the Second World War, the reconciliation between Germany and France laid the very foundations for European integration. The two countries had waged three wars in the space of 70 years: the Franco-Prussian war in 1870-71, then the First and Second World Wars.

In the first years after 1945, it was very tempting to continue along the same track, emphasizing revenge and conflict. Then, on the 9th of May 1950, the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman presented the plans for a Coal and Steel Community.

The governments in Paris and Bonn decided to set history on a completely different course by placing the production of coal and steel under a joint authority. The principal elements of armaments production were to form the beams of a structure for peace. Economic cooperation would from then on prevent new wars and conflicts in Europe, as Schuman put it in his 9th of May speech: “The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible”.

The reconciliation between Germany and France is probably the most dramatic example in history to show that war and conflict can be turned so rapidly into peace and cooperation.

The presence here today of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande makes this day particularly symbolic.

The next step after the Coal and Steel Community was the signing of the Treaty of Rome on the 25th of March 1957. The four freedoms were now established. Borders were to be opened, and the whole economy, not just the coal and steel industry, was to be woven into a whole. The six heads of state, of Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, wrote that they “by thus pooling their resources to preserve and strengthen peace and liberty, and calling upon the other peoples of Europe who share their ideal to join in their efforts, have decided to create a European Economic Community …”.

In 1973, Great Britain, Ireland and Denmark decided to respond to this call.

Greece joined in 1981, and Spain and Portugal in 1986. Membership of the EEC and EU was the right of all European countries “whose system of government is founded on the principles of democracy” and who accept the conditions for membership. Membership consolidated democracy in these countries, not least through the generous support schemes from which Greece, Portugal and Spain were able to benefit.

The next step forward came when the Berlin Wall fell in the course of a miraculous half year in 1989. Opportunities opened up for the neutral countries Sweden, Finland and Austria to become members.

But the new democracies, too, wished to become parts of the West, militarily, economically and culturally. In that connection membership of the EU was a self-evident objective. And a means, enabling the transition to democracy to be made as painlessly as possible. If they were left to themselves, nobody could be certain how things would turn out.

For history has taught us: freedom comes at a price.

The difference is very marked between what happened after the fall of the Berlin Wall and what is now happening in the countries of the Arab world. The Eastern European countries were quickly able to participate in a European community of values, join in a large market, and benefit from economic support. The new democracies in the vicinity of Europe have no such safe haven to make for. The transition to democracy also looks like being long and painful and has already triggered war and conflict.

In Europe the division between east and west was broken down more quickly than anyone could have anticipated. Democracy has been strengthened in a region where democratic traditions were very limited; the many disputes over ethnicity and nationality that had so troubled the region have largely been settled.

Mikhail Gorbachev created the external conditions for the emancipation of Eastern Europe, and national leaders headed by Lech Walesa took the necessary local initiatives. Both Walesa and Gorbachev received their well-deserved Peace Prizes.

Now at last it is the EU’s turn. Events during the months and years following the fall of the Berlin Wall may have amounted to the greatest act of solidarity ever on the European continent.

This collective effort could not have come about without the political and economic weight of the EU behind it.

On this day we must also pay tribute to the Federal Republic of Germany and its Chancellor Helmut Kohl for assuming responsibility and accepting the enormous costs on behalf of the inhabitants of the Federal Republic when East Germany was included practically overnight in a united Germany.

Not everything was settled yet, however. With the fall of communism an old problem returned: the Balkans. Tito’s authoritarian rule had kept a lid on the many ethnic conflicts. When that lid was lifted, violent conflicts blazed up again the like of which we had thought we would never see again in a free Europe.

Five wars were in fact fought in the space of a few years. We will never forget Srebrenica, where 8,000 Muslims were massacred in a single day.

Now, however, the EU is seeking to lay the foundations for peace also in the Balkans. Slovenia joined the EU in 2004. Croatia will become a member in 2013. Montenegro has opened membership negotiations, and Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have been given candidate status.

 

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continued...

continued....

 

The Balkans were and are a complicated region. Unresolved conflicts remain. Suffice it to mention that the status of Kosovo is still not finally settled. Bosnia-Hercegovina is a state that hardly functions owing to the veto the three population groups have become entitled to exercise against each other.

 

The paramount solution is to extend the process of integration that has applied in the rest of Europe. Borders become less absolute; which population group one belongs to no longer determines one’s security.

The EU must accordingly play a main part here, too, to bring about not only an armistice but real peace.

For several decades Turkey and the EU have been discussing their relations to each other. After the new government, headed by the AKP party, won a clear parliamentary majority, the aim of EU membership has provided a guideline for the process of reform in Turkey. There can be no doubt that this has contributed to strengthening the development of democracy there. This benefits Europe, but success in this respect is also important to developments in the Middle East.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has time and again presented the Peace Prize to champions of human rights. Now the prize is going to an organization of which one cannot become a member without first having adapted all one’s legislation to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.

But human rights as such are not enough. We can see this now that country after country is undergoing serious social unrest because misplaced policies, corruption and tax evasion have led to money being poured into gaping black holes.

This leads, understandably, to protests. Demonstrations are part of democracy. The task of politics is to transform the protests into concrete political action.

The way out of the difficulties is not to dismantle the European institutions.

We need to maintain solidarity across borders, as the Union is doing by cancelling debts and adopting other concrete support measures, and by formulating the framework for a finance industry on which we all depend. Unfaithful servants must be removed. These are preconditions for the continuing belief of the European masses in the compromises and moderation which the Union is now demanding of them.

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Heads of Government and Heads of State, ladies and gentlemen, Honourable Presidents of the European Union,

Jean Monnet said that “nothing can be achieved without people, but nothing becomes permanent without institutions”.

We are not gathered here today in the belief that the EU is perfect. We are gathered in the belief that here in Europe we must solve our problems together. For that purpose we need institutions that can enter into the necessary compromises. We need institutions to ensure that both nation-states and individuals exercise self-control and moderation. In a world of so many dangers, compromise, self-control and moderation are the principal needs of the 21st century.

80 million people had to pay the price for the exercise of extremism.

Together we must ensure that we do not lose what we have built on the ruins of the two world wars.

What this continent has achieved is truly fantastic, from being a continent of war to becoming a continent of peace. In this process the European Union has figured most prominently. It therefore deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

The frescos on the walls here in the Oslo City Hall are inspired by Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s frescos from the 1300s in the Siena town hall, named “Allegory of the effects of good government”. The fresco shows a living medieval town, with the gates in the wall invitingly wide open to spirited people bringing the harvest in from fruitful fields. But Lorenzetti painted another picture: “Allegory of the effects of bad government”. It shows Siena in chaos, closed and ravaged by the plague, destroyed by a struggle for power and war.

The two pictures are meant to remind us that it is up to ourselves whether or not we are to live in well-ordered circumstances.

May good government win in Europe.

Thank you for your attention.

 

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Almost forgot this one... my favourite :)

 

The Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine 2012

 

Sir John B. Gurdon, Shinya Yamanaka

 

Sir John B. Gurdon's speech at the Nobel Banquet, 10 December 2012.

 

Your Majesties, your Royal Highnesses, ladies and gentlemen; on behalf of Shinya Yamanaka and myself, may I express our profound gratitude to the Karolinska Institutet and to the Nobel Foundation for this pre-eminent honour bestowed on us at this time.

Shinya Yamanaka and I must be more different than any other previous co-recipients of the Physiology or Medicine award. Shinya Yamanaka was born in the year of my main finding, and we have never worked together or on the same material; yet we share our great wish that our contributions may help to alleviate human suffering in a similar way.

For my part I have worked all my life with eggs and embryos of frogs. Compared to other small animals, these have figured prominently in the world of literature. They served as a chorus in a play by Aristophanes, The Frogs, which won first prize when first performed in 405 BC. A.A. Milne's Toad of Toad Hall was a very benign Lord of the Manor in his river community. Hilaire Belloc wrote,

"Be kind and tender to the frog,

and do not call him names.

A shiny skin, a Polly‐wog,

or Gape‐a‐grin, a toad gone wrong,

The frog is justly sensitive

to epithets like these.

No animal will more repay

A treatment kind and fair."

I myself have been a major beneficiary of the view that no animal will more repay treatment that is kind and fair.

Shinya Yamanaka's work has involved mice and human cells, and advances the prospect of providing new cells or body parts for patients. This concept goes back in history for a long time. The earliest example known to me, of replaced body parts, is exemplified by a Mayan skull, dating back to 1400 BC. In this, false teeth made of stone, had been implanted. This was not just to improve appearance in the presumed after-life. The reaction of the jaw-bone showed that the false teeth had been hammered in in life. (Perhaps, at that time, an extract of the coca tree, of South America, now used by dentists as novocaine, had already been discovered.)

Although body part replacement is not a new concept, the practice of reversing the process of cell differentiation to an embryonic state to form new cells of different kinds has become a realistic project during the last half century. This raises the possibility of giving people new cells of their own genetic kind, and hence, without immunosuppression, to replace cells worn out by age or disease, a hope of the new field of regenerative medicine.

Starting in my case with no therapeutic benefit in sight, we are truly grateful to our immediate families and close colleagues, Ron Laskey for me and Kazutoshi Takahashi for Shinya Yamanaka, for their selfless co-operation and support.

We thank our hosts immensely for this truly unique experience provided by a spectacular week, and also for this magnificent banquet.

 

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