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Nobel laureates: `Nobel Prize comes when least sought for`

Nobel laureates: `Nobel Prize comes when least sought for`

Posted October. 30, 2013 07:35,   


The Molecular Frontiers Symposium (MFS) 2013 attended by eminent scientists from the world took place in Korea University for two days from Monday. The MFS having been organized by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the organization awarding the Nobel Prize, was hosted this year by Korea, outside Sweden for the first time in its history. This should be attributed to Korea’s excellent IT and scientific abilities.

The symposium co-hosted by Korea University, Swedish Academy of Sciences and its Molecular Frontiers Foundation and Nanyang Technological University of Singapore invited 12 globally recognized scientists including four Nobel laureates as its speakers, including Richard Roberts, the winner of Nobel Prize in physiology in 1993, Andrew Fire, the winner of Nobel Prize in physiology in 2006, Ada Yonath, the first female winner of Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2009, and Arieh Warshel, this year’s winner of Nobel Prize in chemistry.

The “talk concert on science" on Monday where the scholars as mentors gave advice to high school students who want to become future scientists was full of excitement and enthusiasm. They advised students “not to be limited by text book science but to follow curiosity and go on a journey of science” and that “science is like putting the puzzle together and the process of sticking to it until the last piece is completed brings up real pleasure.” Professor Warshel emphasized the importance of new thinking and pioneering spirit by saying, “People said I was wrong when I tried a new method."

Although Korea ranks top in mathematics and science according to the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, the nation relatively lags behind in creativity and students’ academic satisfaction. This is because Korea’s education is focused on rote learning rather than on problem solving. Even students who are good at science in high school avoid science and engineering majors in college, resulting in Korea’s weak foundation of basic science. In fact, Korea, unlike Japan, has failed to produce a Nobel Prize winner in science. Without promoting creativity and valuing the process than the result, Korea will be far from being a science powerhouse. The Nobel Prize winners advise that the prize will be awarded when you do not seek for it.

The serious attitude of students in the MFS demonstrates that the future of Korean science is still bright. These high school students who were selected through competition in their school paid full attention to the speakers not to miss a word. To provide these young students full of intellectual curiosity with an environment where they can keep up with their dream and concentrate on scientific research is what the older generation should do. Then, they will become a future winner of the Nobel Prize.