30 January 2014

Thursday Thought: What Would Nobel Do?

In 1971, Dennis Gabor won the Nobel Prize in Physics. On December 10 he concluded his speech at the Nobel awards banquet with these words:

“In his epoch Alfred Nobel was a very wise man by endowing what he considered as pursuits of eternal values; science, pure and applied, idealistic literature, peace. I sometimes wonder what he would have done if he had lived seventy-five years later? I think that he would have been highly satisfied to see what physics, chemistry and medicine have done to make the world a better place for men, but he would have been deeply unhappy to see that it has failed to make the world a safer place. I do not presume to guess what his inventive genius might have done, but I feel that he would have put the emphasis on the study of man's nature, and of the social institutions which may protect him for himself.

“Yes, science and art, truth and beauty, are eternal values for any civilisation which deserves this name, but they can flourish only if they are protected by wise social institutions against the fighting animal in man, which safeguard peace, social and international. My wish is that the talents of the whole next generation should recognize this as their first priority.”

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