STOCKHOLM – Science tries to solve the problems of Humanity, but also knows how to have fun, as shown on Monday night at the Nobel banquet in the Stockholm City Hall, by some of the new Nobel Prize winners who took to the floor.
This year, the 1,300 guests laughed a lot, especially because of the Nobel Prize winners in Physics Donna Strickland and in Chemistry Frances Arnold.
Strickland, above all, paid tribute to the two women who received the award before her, Marie Curie and Maria Goeppert-Mayer. “I am humbled to be in their company,” she said.
But above all, she talked about fun and about 1983, when Cyndi Lauper sang “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” but everyone had to wait until the working day is done.
However, Strickland had fun while working because “experimental physics is especially fun” and there are “really cool toys in the lab.” In her case she got to play with the high intensity lasers, which have earned her the Nobel prize, and which do “magical things.”
Arnold told the story of Newton’s apple from the point of view of evolution: “once upon a time, apples used to go in all directions, up, down, sideways, the world was full of ricocheting apples. However, only those apples that fell to the ground were able to germinate and grow new trees.” Over of millions of years of evolution only those that fell were left. “Which is why apples now fall to the ground.”
The Nobel Prize winner for performing the directed evolution of enzymes indicated that with evolution “in our hands” we can explore ways to create new sources of energy, cure diseases, “make us younger,” but also warned that we can misuse it.
Therefore, she proposed “a toast to evolution – may we use it well!”
Medicine Nobel Laureate Tasuku Honjo, who wore the traditional Japanese kimono, explained how immunotherapy, a new weapon against cancer, works, and encouraged more scientists to do research to improve it and make it available to everyone.
William Nordhaus, awarded for his analyses that include climate change in economic growth, and who started his speech in Swedish garnering laughter of approval, asked the “current generation” to “now” take steps to slow global warming and thus preserve this “wonderful planet.”
The banquet in the Blue Hall of the Stockholm City Hall was attended by King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, the Crown Princess Victoria and her husband, Prince Daniel, the Princes Carl Philip and Sofia, in addition to the new Nobel winners and more than 1,000 guests.
On the menu of the night the vegetables were the stars. From the celery, to the kohlrabi, to the chanterelles or the watercress, served with lightly baked Arctic char with crayfish broth or slow-roasted beef chuck.
The banquet was accompanied by music from the Swedish singer and pianist Anna von Hausswolff and a dance which was choreographed by the Royal Swedish Ballet.
The floral arrangements also evoked courage, represented by large anthuriums in crimson, pink and violet tones, along with delicate roses and peonies wrapped in green and gold leaf details.
All floral arrangements, both at the banquet and at the awards ceremony are donated each year by the Italian town of San Remo, where Alfred Nobel, inventor of the awards, died in 1986.