Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nobel Prize awarded to Ertl

Today, there is a lot of excitement here in Germany because the Nobel Prize in chemistry also goes to a German, Gerhard Ertl, "for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces", and his contributions to the understanding of the workings of catalysis at surfaces. Actually, Ertl had started his scientific career as a physicist.

It has been a long time since there had been such a couple of prizes awarded to Germans.

About Grünberg, the Darmstadt local newspaper reported today that one of his professors, back at the time when Grünberg was a PhD student in Darmstadt, told him that he would once win the Nobel Prize, because he was up at the institute so early in the morning.

It seems that Grünberg has always been a very hard worker - in an interview on German TV yesterday evening, he said that he had had regular 14-hour workdays in the lab. I guess that is something that is often easily forgotten, that most prizewinners are extremely hard-working people.


  1. A güt year for Germany!

    This blog's readers wish their favorites an equally good year!

  2. ", that most prizewinners are extremely hard-working people."

    Ah, so you both will never win the prize ? :-))

    (OK, OK, a bit too obvious)

  3. My favorite topic..Work Ethic

    The "early bird gets the worm" approach reminds me of this quote from that really great TV show "From Student to Scientist" (Nobel Laureates & other scientists, addressing HS kids who are considering Science):

    Dr. Glenn Seaborg [ Nobel Prize, Chemistry ]
    I think I would have to credit persistence, & I kinda hate to have to use the word, but Hard Work. Doing research. Doing research nearly ALL of my waking hours

    And I thought I was the ONLY NUT..hehehe

    That's how I do research, 24 hrs a day in a room.

    "Science isn't's the ONLY THING"
    [ play on the phrase by V. Lombardi.."Winning isn't's the only ting ]

    I.e., "I DON'T HAVE LIFE"..most scientists can plead guilty to this (to varying degrees). I live/sleep & work out of my living room, like Einstein. The few people that have been here refer to it as a "dungeon". 1 of my Caltech prof friends is like this too..the whole Academia "pressure-cooker" can create pathological lifestyles. Look at R. Knop (& more scary..the people who are STILL in Academia). Rob & I have a more valid lifestyle ("alternative method"), we can do it on our own time.

    [ I conquered an entire field as a PhD student ("throwing pearls at swine", that's a quote from the Bible..btw), so I made his "scattering out of Academia" decision very early. Never considered Academia tenure track..nothing left to prove ].

    I read somewhere that Lisa Randall/Harvard "takes her work home with her". Something about settling in on her couch at home, & continuing on..

    "Victory belongs to the Most PERSEVERING"
    -- Napoleon

    "It's all about HEART"
    "Hard work pays off"
    "Are you willing to pay the price?"
    "Go HARD..or GO HOME!"
    [ from Offroad community, a niche-market my multimedia project is targeting. I said this to J. Preskill/Caltech in a phone conversation, & he burst out laughing! ]

    Dr. Charles Townsend [ Nobel Prize, Physics ]
    Some yes i spend a lot of time. I agree with that you have to work very hard very intensively. But its not what the ordinary person calls work, to me. It's really interesting fun ..enjoyable.. exciting to be thinking about these things

    Burton Richter [ Nobel Prize, Physics ]
    We went along to know what no man has known, < this sounds like the introduction to Star Trek right? >, to go where no man has gone before,
    uh, that's what i wanted to do!

    Dr. Sheldon Glashow [ Nobel Prize, Physics ]
    It's all linked together. It's all the joy of discovery. It's either doing it yourself. or, seeeing someone else get interested in the same sorts of problems. Or seeing someone else solve the problem you couldn't solve. All of these things are joyous events in the world of physics just wonderful to see what the community does

    Dr. John Horner [ paleontologist ]
    This is where patience comes in. Palentologists have to have,.. we get excited but it has to be patient excitement, because it's a long way from discovery to actually getting to a point to study it

    Dr. Arno Penzias [ Nobel Prize, Physics ]
    In junior high school library there was book called Crucibles by Jaffe, history of chemistry, it's more a history of chemists.. bunch of people each of whom in their lifetime, didn't know much, but
    started looking, doing experiments exploring, but each of these people sometime in their life, knew something before anyone else on the planet & seemed that like a wonderful feeling, its happened to me a couple times in my life & there's very little to match it

    Dr. Burton Richter [ Nobel Prize, Physics ]
    Think of all the words that you have ever read about explorers, discovering something new, thrill of exploration. The thrill of finding what no one knew was there before. It's all true. And, it doesnt happen very often in a lifetime..

    Dr. Sheldon Glashow [ Nobel Prize, Physics ]
    Dammit man, you're born in this world, and, through no fault of our own it is your duty to understand why the world is the way it is. And if
    you don't see it as your duty, then you're irresponsible

    John Horner [ Paleontologist ]
    The nice thing about being a paleontologist, is that you don't have the answer, it's really like being a detective you weren't there but to gather the evidence, & gather the information, and the more you get, the better the story gets, the closer you get to the truth

    Dr. Murray Gell-Mann [ Nobel Prize, Physics ]
    It's realy splendid to look at the world in term of connnections & relationships, so many people just look at facts as disconnected objects, but they're not that at all

    Dr. Glenn Seaborg [ Nobel Prize, Chemistry ]
    Scientists find excitement in their work & their discoveries I think its exciteement at a level most other people don't experience.

    Dr. Steven Gould (evolution theorist)
    If you're going to get caught up in the commercialization of mass culture of excitement, you're never going to make it. & too many people
    get caught up in it,.. You have to be independent individualist, & committed to excellence

    Linus Pauling [ Nobel Prize, Chemistry & Peace ]
    I feel much to my surpise by it, that I have contriubted something to the well being of human beings

    Charles Townsend [ Nobel Prize, Physics ]
    I would say there are unturned stones, and old people say turn over every stone to do something, well there are lots of unturned stones, things we haven't done, we don't know what's under them

    Leon Lederman [ Nobel Prize, Physics ]
    For creative scientists it's very good to get started early. Skip things, begins to accumulate the ability to do research. That's what we really keep empahsizing even at the undergraduate level. Get in the lab, & begin to dabble in the things..

    Dr. Edward Teller [ Physics ]
    I hope that every one of you ,.. will become a scientist I hope... that as scientsits,.. you will learn to say one thing..that few scientists say,... say 3 words < I Don't Know > Learn ask questions & keep your overbearing interest asking those questions

    Linus Pauling [ Nobel Prize, Chemistry ]
    My work as a whole, has been half experimental, half theortical which I think is a good combination

    Charles Townsend [ Nobel Prize, Physics ]
    If you are too much of a loner, you lose too much of what other people discover & know, you want to know what they know ,now you build on that, they should know what you know to build on that, & just trying out ideas, & talking about things some chance comment may allow you recognize something, that the person making the comment didn't realize as frequently happens, you run into somebody, who starts another train of thought

    Dr. Edward Teller [ Physics ]
    I am a scientist, I have 3 jobs:
    < the atom I cannot evade it >
    I must Understand
    I must Apply what I have Understood
    I must then Explain in what possible detail what I can, what I have understood & its consequences.
    What do do with it, is the ethical question I have ethics, not as scientist, as a citizen, that ethics is shared by everybody. My job as a scientist
    Understood, Applied, & Explained
    ... < video of Atom Bomb/Manhattan Project >
    the ethics belong to all of us

  4. Now I know why I have never won any awards. I come to office late and leave early. And I spend most of my office hours surfing the web reading blogs like yours.

  5. Congrats to Germany...


  6. Hi Chimpanzee, Hi Chickenbreeder:

    The factor of sitting in the office has tremendously lost in importance during the last decade, especially in theoretical physics. The experimentalist might actually occasionally have to go into his lab, but most of my job I can do anywhere and every time, as long as I can at least every other day plug in my laptop somewhere (library access is the most essential point). The main reason I see for still clustering researchers in one location is that it benefits inspiration and opinion exchange. Some people might need more of it, some less. The situation is of course different for places with teaching duties/office hours etc.



  7. Pleased to beat you on a different Nobel - the peace prize won by IPCC and Gore!


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