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‘Don’t pursue science to win a Nobel’

Chemistry Nobel laureate for 2009 and India-born US citizen Venkatraman Ramakrishnan on Tuesday said winning a Nobel Prize...

Written by Johnson TA | Bangalore |
January 6, 2010 3:11:02 am

Chemistry Nobel laureate for 2009 and India-born US citizen Venkatraman Ramakrishnan on Tuesday said winning a Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of ribosome did not qualify him to offer advice on every subject.

“I am not a prophet. Because I have solved the problem of the structure of the ribosome I cannot offer advice to anyone,” Ramakrishnan said in response to a question on what his message to young students aspiring for a science career would be.

Ramakrishnan who delivered a lecture on his journey from Baroda to Cambridge and the Nobel Prize,as part of centenary celebrations of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) here,said he was frequently asked by people on how to win a Nobel.

Prof Ramakrishnan said his advice would be not to go into science to win a Nobel. “You should only go into science if you care about problems. If you are bored with the problems then it is a sign you are not doing what you should be doing,” he said.

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The Nobel laureate said one of the things he had laid emphasis on in his science journey was working on important problems over pedestrian ones that offer incremental advances of knowledge. “The quality or impact of work is much more important than the number of papers published,” he said while citing the example of double chemistry Nobel winner Fred Sanger who published only around 40 papers in his long career but who transformed molecular biology.

The Nobel winner said working at MRC,Cambridge,that has a sizable number of Nobel winners,had helped since it was a “place where Nobel laureates are not considered any more special than others who have done important work”.

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