Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Spirit of Lindau from Nature Video

Inspirational stories from 2010 Lindau meeting of Nobel laureates

The annual Lindau meeting of young scholars with Nobel laureates concluded its 60th edition in 2010. To celebrate this milestone, Nature has come out with a supplement.
Nature Outlook in a supplement Science masterclass comes up with with stories that arouse curiosity. There are ten question and answer (Q&A) sessions put here. The questions were posed to Nobel laureates were selected through an online voting process.
Arno Penzias, Physics, 1978, in runaway success advises youngsters to 'ask questions' particularly, those that illuminate, and not those that destroy. Gerardus 't Hooft, Physics, 1999, says that one should not fear from making mistakes, rather, one should make it a honour to be the first one to fine out ones mistake, but even if someone else does it, they must be happy for having asked the right kind of questions.
Peter Agre, Chemistry, 2003, the family naturalist, adds that a young scientist should not work towards prizes, but rather pursue towards making discoveries, earning the respect of peers and training next generation of scientists. Christian de Duve, Medicine, 1974, in joy of discovery, highlighted to youngsters the need to excel intellectually and technically, as the endeavour in science has to be 'unashamedly elitist'.
In conducting your research, observe total rigour and intellectual honesty in the analysis of facts, consider all possible hypotheses, plan your approach to test those hypotheses, and submit your conclusions to the verdict of observation and experimentation without preconceived ideas. Never conduct research with the aim of proving a theory, but, rather, to invalidate it if it should be wrong. The best proof is failure to disprove.
Oliver Smithies, Medicine, 2007, response to the question on convincing public about relevance of fundamental research with no applications in sight refers to the Hubble telescope and its image revealing the universe that satisfies 'curiosity' which is a basic part of human nature that builds science brick by brick.
In politics and prophecy, John Mather, Physics, 2006, adds that the public should feel inspired from the many stories of fundamental research leading to world-changing applications. Co-recipient, George Smoot's, thought in aeons points out the relevance of interdisciplinary research but there is a need to understand the differences - the complex biological systems with a difficulty in measurement and observation call for high level and rough understanding whereas physicists are trained for rigour and precision.
The relevance of interdisciplinary research was also highlighted by David Gross, Physics, 2004 in the frontier physicist and Paul Crutzen, Chemistry, 1995. The latter was trained in civil engineering who moved to computer programming to work on meteorological models that got him hooked to atmospheric chemistry. He is the one who coined the term 'Anthropocene man', that is a nuclear war will lead to 'nuclear winter' with more people dying from starvation and diseases than the bomb. Harold Kroto, Chemistry, 1996, working in the coal face, argues a case to delink science funding from peer-review because of the difficulty to foresee important breakthrough.
The annual Lindau meeting which started in post-war Germany to revive science, health and economy has now become a global meeting that fosters the culture of science and with the coming of the digital age the way we do science.

In turning the tables, where the expert panel comprises of young scholars and the audience are selected laureates, the lessons learned for young scholars are:

choose a supervisor who does not travel too much,
don't try to please your supervisor all the time, be prepared to challenge them,
put questions to your supervisor, but think of some possible suggestions beforehand,
assume your supervisor is wrong and develop your own way to approach the problem,
idealism regarding science in politics is good, but be aware that it will be a steep challenge, and
don't give up too easily.

And that for laureates, rather for mentors are:
reply to emails from students within twelve hours,
don't dictate a student's life,
give creative freedom,
foster relationship among students in the lab, not just with them,
let students develop their 'voice' when writing papers, and
communicate your science to the public by using the media.

The supplement also has links to some collection from past issues to help the young scholars in their career, on alternative paths and how to prepare. Equally inspiring is the collection from the archives that include inspiration from the life of Dorothy Hodgkin, a female Nobel laureate, and how to make mentoring and networking work.
A small disappointment about this coverage is that it has excluded the interactions and discussions with the laureates of Literature, Peace and Economics. On a personal note, this is somewhat made up by the guide for mentors.

Read more:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

লিন্ডাও সম্মেলনে অংশগ্রহণের আবেদন...............

জার্মানির লিন্ডাও শহরে প্রতিবছর বসে নোবেল বিজয়ীদের মেলা। একেকবার এককটি বিষয়কে প্রাধান্য দেওয়া হয়। ১৯৫১ সাল থেকে লিন্ডাও শহরে এ সম্মেলন অনুষ্ঠিত হচ্ছে। নোবেল বিজয়ীদের সে সম্মেলনে সারা পৃথিবী থেকে বাছাই করা পাঁচ শতাধিক তরুণ বিজ্ঞানীও যোগ দেন। ২০০৭ সাল থেকে সেখানে অংশ নিচ্ছে বাংলাদেশের শিক্ষার্থীরা। এবারও আমাদের প্রতিনিধিত্ব করার সুযোগ থাকছে। এবারের সম্মেলনের প্রতিপাদ্য ‘চিকিৎসা ও জীববিজ্ঞান’।

লিন্ডাওয়ের নিয়মানুসারে বাংলাদেশের প্রতিনিধিদের প্রাথমিকভাবে নির্বাচন করবেন অধ্যাপক মুহম্মদ জাফর ইকবালের নেতৃত্বে একটি একাডেমিক কমিটি। দেশে নির্বাচিতদের তালিকা পাঠানো হবে জার্মানিতে লিন্ডাও ফাউন্ডেশনে। সেখান থেকে হবে চূড়ান্ত নির্বাচন, যা জানা যাবে আগামী ফেব্রুয়ারিতে। সম্মেলনে যোগ দেওয়ার জন্য ৩০ বছরের কম বয়সী শিক্ষার্থী ও গবেষকদের মনোনয়ন দেওয়া হবে। ৩০ অক্টোবর পর্যন্ত আবেদন করা যাবে ইন্টারনেটে। সম্পর্কিত বিষয়ের গবেষক, শিক্ষার্থীরা আবেদন করতে পারবেন। এ ছাড়া ফেসবুকে লিন্ডাও বাংলাদেশ গ্রুপে এবং লিন্ডাও বাংলাদেশের ব্লগে বিগত বছরগুলোর অংশগ্রহণকারীদের সঙ্গে যোগাযোগ করা যাবে। অনলাইনে আবেদনের ঠিকানা

Prothom-alo:লিন্ডাও সম্মেলনে অংশগ্রহণের আবেদন

Saturday, July 10, 2010

নোবেল বিজয়ী বিজ্ঞানীদের সান্নিধ্যে

২০০৭ সাল থেকে জার্মানির লিন্ডাও শহরে নোবেল বিজয়ী বিজ্ঞানীদের সান্নিধ্যে যাওয়ার সুযোগ পাচ্ছেন আমাদের তরুণ গবেষকেরা। ২০০৯ সালে রসায়নের সম্মেলনে উপস্থিত ছিলেন বাংলাদেশের তিন তরুণ গবেষক। তাদের অন্যতম কাজী মাহমুদা তাসনীম বিজ্ঞান প্রজন্মের পাঠকদের জন্য তুলে ধরেছেন তার দুর্লভ অভিজ্ঞতা।তারিখঃ ৩০-০৮-২০০৯

শুরুটা হয়েছিল কিছুটা দ্বিধা নিয়েই। মৌলিক রসায়ন নয়, প্রকৌশলের ছাত্রী আমি,তারপর ও জার্মানীর লিন্ডাও-এ রসায়নে নোবেল বিজয়ী বিজ্ঞানীদের সম্মেলনে অংশগ্রহনের তীব্র আকাঙ্খা থেকেই আবেদন করে ফেললাম। প্রাথমিক মনোনয়নের ধাপ পার করতে পেরে আশার আলো দ্যুতি ছড়ালো হয়তো। অধীর অপেক্ষায় চূড়ান্ত মনোনয়নের দিন গুনছি। হঠাৎ মেইল পেলাম লিন্ডাও কাউন্সিলের। তাদের শেষ মুহুর্তের মনোনয়ন এ এবার বাংলাদেশ থেকে তরুণ গবেষক হিসেবে যাচ্ছি আমরা তিনজন। আমার সাথে আছে জাহাঙ্গীরনগর বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের শিশির ঘোষ ও বাংলাদেশ কৃষি বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের বিপ্লব কুমার সাহা।

স্বপ্ন এবার সত্যি হবার পথে! কিভাবে কি করবো বুঝে উঠতে পারছি না। এগিয়ে এলেন মুনির হাসান। তাঁর মাধ্যমেই যোগাযোগ হলো শিশির ও বিপ্লবের সাথে। আমরা তিনজনই একই শিক্ষাবর্ষের ছাত্র বলে বন্ধুত্ব হয়াটা কেবল সময়ের ব্যপার ছিল মাত্র। নোবেল বিজয়ী বিজ্ঞানীদের খুব কাছে থেকে দেখার সুযোগ হতে যাচ্ছে – বিস্ময়ে অভিভূত এই আমাদের আলোচনায় তাই ঘুরে ফিরে সেই একই পরিকল্পনা। নর্থ আমেরিকান বাংলাদেশি ইসলামিক কমিঊনিটি ও বাংলাদেশ বিজ্ঞান একাডেমীর যৌথ অর্থায়নে নিশ্চিত হলো আমাদের বহু আকাঙ্খিত এই যাত্রা। বরাবরের মতো যুক্তরাষ্ট্রপ্রবাসী বাংলাদেশি বিজ্ঞানী আতাউল করিম দাড়াঁলেন আমাদের পাশে।

২৬শে জুন সকালে লিন্ডাও এর উদ্দেশ্যে যাত্রা করলাম। আমাদের সাথেই ছিলেন বাংলাদেশ বিজ্ঞান একাডেমীর ভাইস প্রেসিডেন্ট ড. মেসবাহ উদ্দিন আহমাদ এবং তাঁর স্ত্রী ড. ফরিদা আখতার। এদিকে উৎসাহ উদ্দীপনার সময় শেষ করে ঐ রাতেই পৌঁছলাম জার্মানির মিউনিখ শহরে। মিউনিখে বুয়েটের এক প্রাত্তন ছাত্র সুমিতের আতিথেয়তায় রাত কাটল। পরদিন বিকেলেই আমরা চলে গেলাম ছোট্ট সুন্দর নয়নাভিরাম শহর লিন্ডাও।

লিন্ডাও, ২৮শে জুন, দুপুর, পর্দা উঠলো বিজ্ঞানিদের এক মহা মিলনমেলার। ২৪ জন বিজ্ঞানিদের সাথে ৬৬ টি দেশ থেকে আসা ৫৮০ জন তরুন গবেষকদের এই সেতুবন্ধনের আয়োজনে আমরাও একই কাতারে দাঁড়িয়ে!

জলবায়ু পরিবর্তন, পরিবেশ দূষণ, নবায়নযোগ্য শক্তি- এই সব গুরুত্বপূর্ণ বিষয়গুলোই এবারকার আয়োজনের মূল প্রতিপাদ্য ছিল। সীমাবদ্ধ প্রাকৃতিক সম্পদের উপযুক্ত ব্যবহারের মাধ্যমে পরিবেশবান্ধব উপায়ে কিভাবে প্রয়োজনীয় উৎপাদন সম্ভব- এই ব্যপারটিকেই খুব গুরুত্বের সাথে দেখেন বিজ্ঞানিরা। সম্মেলনের আয়োজনকে সাজানো হয়েছিল দুই ভাগে। নির্ধারিত চারদিনই দুপুর পর্যন্ত চলতো নোবেল বিজয়ী বিজ্ঞানিদের লেকচার আর বক্তৃতা। আর বিকেলে ছিল তাঁদের সাথে আগ্রহী তরুন গবেষকদের আলোচনার ব্যবস্থা।
বিজ্ঞানিদের গবেষণার কথা তো আমরা জানতে পারি বই পরে, কিন্তু একজন মানুষ হিষেবে তারা কেমন এই ব্যপারেই আমার আগ্রহ ছিল বেশি। এদিক বিবেচনায় আমার ঝোক তা বরাবরই ছিল সুইস বিজ্ঞানি ড. আর্নস্ট এর প্রতি, কারন তিনি কেবল একজন বিজ্ঞানিই নন, বরং একজন দার্শনিকও বটে। বক্তৃতা পর্বের প্রথমেই পেয়েও গেলাম তাঁকে। রসায়ন নিয়ে কাজ করেন বলেই কিনা, রসবোধের আধার নিয়ে আমাদের সামনে হাজির হলেন তিঁনি। Fourier transform NMR spectrometer নিয়ে কাজ করে ১৯৯১ সালে নোবেল জয় করলেও তার বক্তব্যে এই দাঁত ভাঙা শব্দের চর্চা হল কমই। তিঁনি বরং তাঁর জ্ঞ্যানগর্ভ জীবনবোধের আলোয় আলোকিত করলেন আমাদের ভিন্ন মাত্রায়। বললেন, “কখনোই একপেশে পুঁথিগতবিদ্যা স্বর্বস্ব হয়োনা, কাজ করো মনের তাগিদে”।

ওজোন স্তর ক্ষতির কারন খুঁজতে খুঁজতেই ১৯৯৫ সালে নোবেল পেয়ে যাওয়া তিন বিজ্ঞানী ড. ক্রুজেন, ড. রোনাল্ড এবং ড. মোলিনার লেকচারের অপেক্ষায় ছিলাম আমি। “রসায়ন অবশ্যই আমার পছন্দের বিষয়গুলোর মধ্যে একটি ছিল না”, শুরুতেই ক্রুজেন এর সরল স্বীকারোক্তি! কিন্তু, সিভিল ইঞ্জিনিয়ার হিসেবে চাকুরি শুরু করলেও গবেষণার প্রতি আসক্তি হয়ত তাঁর মজ্জাগত ছিলো। তাই পরবর্তীতে স্টকহোম ইউনিভার্সিটির আবহাওয়াবিদ্যা বিভাগে কম্পিউটার প্রোগ্রামার হিসেবে কর্মকালীন সময়েই তিনি মাস্টার্স, এমনকি পিএইচডি ও করে ফেললেন আবহাওয়াবিদ্যাতেই। আর এইভাবেই বায়ুমন্ডলীয় ওজোন এর আলোক-রসায়ন নিয়ে কাজ করতে করতেই নাইট্রাস আক্সাইড (N2O) কিভাবে ওজোনস্তরকে ধংস্ব করে তা ব্যখ্যা করে ফেললেন! ভূমির ব্যকটেরিয়াতে থাকা প্রাকৃতিক নাইট্রাস আক্সাইড বায়ুমন্ডলের স্ট্র্যাটোস্ফিয়ারে সৌর শক্তির উপস্থিতিতে ভেঙ্গে সক্রিয় দুটি যৌগ নাইট্রোজেন-ডাই-আক্সাইড (NO2) এবং নাইট্রিক আক্সাইড (NO) উৎপন্ন করে যা ওজোন (O3) কে ভেঙ্গে অক্সিজেন অনু(O2) তৈরী করে ফেলে। এই তথ্য বেরিয়ে আসে ক্রুজেন এর গবেষণায়। আর এরই মাধ্যমে একজন রসায়নে বীতস্রদ্ধ মানুষ রসায়নের সর্বোচ্চ পুরষ্কারে সম্মানিত হন! যুগ যুগ ধরে মানবজাতির নানবিধ কর্মকান্ডে কিভাবে পরিবেশ ক্ষতিগ্রস্ত হচ্ছে, জলবায়ু পরিবর্তন হচ্ছে, গ্রীন হাঊজ গ্যাস, এসিড বৃষ্টির ঘটনা বেড়ে যাচ্ছে- এই ব্যপার গুলোই তুলে ধরলেন ক্রুজেন তাঁর তথ্যনির্ভর বক্তব্যে। এরপর এলেন ড. রোলান্ড। কে জানতো আমেরিকার ওহাইওর আবহাওয়া ষ্টেশনে কাজ করা সামান্য এক স্বেচ্ছাসেবক একদিন পৃথিবী নামের গ্রহটাকে বাঁচাতে কিছু একটা করে ফেলবেন? আসল ঘটনা হলো, পোষ্ট ডক্তোরেট রিসার্চে তিঁনি আর ড. মোলিনা মিলিত ভাবে মাত্র তিন মাসের একটা গবেষনায় একটি থিউরী দাঁড় করিয়ে ফেললেন যা থেকে ধারণা করা যায় ক্লোরো-ফ্লোরো-কার্বন (CFC) ওজোন স্তর ধংসের একটি অন্যতম কারন! পরবর্তিতে তাদের এই তত্ব নানাভাবে সত্যি প্রমানিত হবার পর আন্তর্জাতিকভাবে CFC কে নিষিদ্ধ ঘোষনা করা হয়। তাঁদের এই আবিষ্কারের স্বীকৃতি মেলে ১৯৯৫ সালে নোবেল জয়ের মাধ্যমে। পরিবেশ বাঁচাতে ব্যক্তিগত সচেতনতাবোধ থেকেই ধাপে ধাপে স্বর্বজনীন সুফল সম্ভব। “মানুষকে ‘লাল বাতি’ মেনে চলতে অভ্যস্ত হতে হবে”, এমন মন্তব্য ড. মোলিনার। নীতি –নির্ধারক ও বৈজ্ঞানিক গোষ্ঠীর এক টেবিলে বসা টাকেও তিনি গুরুত্তপুর্ণ মনে করেন। সবসময়ই হাসিখুশি অমায়িক এই বিজ্ঞানির সাথে বিকেল বেলার আলোচনা পর্ব শেষে বেশকিছুক্ষণ কথা বলার সুযোগ পাই আমি। একমাত্র তাঁর সাথে একটা মিল খুঁজে পেয়েই যেন সন্তুষ্ট আমি - তাঁর মতো আমারও ব্যাচেলর ডিগ্রী কেমিকৌশল ইঞ্জিনিয়ারিং এ! বাংলাদেশের প্রাকৃতিক দূর্যোগ সহ নানা বিষয়ে তিনি কথা বললেন। দেখলাম, এ বিষয়ে আমার থেকে খুব কম জানেন না ড.মোলিনা!

জৈব-রসায়নের খুব বেশি কিছু আমার জানা না থাকলেও পরবর্তী দিন গুলোতে ড. মার্টিন, ড. শিমমুরা আর ড. রজার সেইন এর লেকচার এর পর গ্রীন ফ্লোরেসেন্ট প্রোটিন (GFP) এর ব্যপারটা কিছুটা হলেও বোধগম্য হলো আমার। এই জিএফপি নিয়ে গবেষণাই তাঁদেরকে ২০০৮ সালে নোবেল পাইয়ে দেয়! জিএফপি হলো জিনগতভাবে লিখিত মার্কার যার বর্ণ সবুজ, যা কিনা খুব সহজেই মানব দেহের জীবন্ত টিস্যু থেকে দৃষ্টিগ্রাহ্য। বায়ো-মেডিকেল গবেষণার পথ ধরেই GFP এখন মানব শরীরের টিউমারও সনাক্ত করতে পারছে! বিনয়ী মার্টিন তাঁর বক্তব্যের ফাঁকেই আমাদের জানিয়ে দিলেন তাঁর এই সাফল্যের সিংহভাগই নাকি তাঁর স্ত্রী এবং একই সাথে সহকর্মী ড. টুল্লে হ্যাজেলরিগ এর উপরই বর্তায় মহতি এই মানুষ গুলোর কাছে বিনয়ী হতে পারাটা একদম শেখার মতো। এদিকে ড.রজার সেইন তাঁর জিএফপি-সংক্রান্ত আকর্ষণীয় গল্প(!) শেষে তরুণ গবেষকদের জন্য কিছু উপদেশ দিতে ভুললেন না! উপদেশ গুলোর সারাংশটা এমন- “এমন কোনো কাজ খুঁজে নাও, যা তোমাকে কিছুটা হলেও মানসিক প্রশান্তিও দেবে”, “লেবু থেকে লেবুর শরবতই বানাতে চেষ্টা করো, অন্য কিছু নয়; অধ্যবসয় কখনও বিফলে যায় না”!

খুবই কৌতুকপ্রিয় মজার মানুষ স্যার ক্রোটো! তাঁর অসাধারণ বক্তৃতার পর তো তাঁর জনপ্রিয়তা তখন তুঙ্গে! এই রকম একজন বিজ্ঞানের সাধনায় ডুবে থাকা মানুষ কিভাবে সাধারণ্যে মিশে যেতে পারেন এটা ক্রোটোকে না দেখলে বোঝা যায় না! ফুলেরিন কার্বন যৌগ ( ৬০ অথবা তার চেয়েও বেশি সংখ্যক কার্বন পরমানু নিয়ে গঠিত যৌগ) আবিষ্কার তাঁকে ১৯৯৬ সালে নোবেল পাইয়ে দিলেও তিনি কেবল একজন নোবেল বিজয়ী হিসেবেই পরিচিত নন, শিক্ষা-বিজ্ঞান-প্রযুক্তিকে প্রসারিত করার জন্য নানারকম সামাজিক কর্মকান্ডেও তিনি সক্রিয়ভাবে জড়িত। “আমি একজন মুক্ত চিন্তার, রসিক, মানবতাবাদী মানুষ”-নিজেকে এইভাবেই প্রকাশ করেন ক্রোটো! “ আমি কখনো উত্তর খুঁজি না, বরং প্রশ্নটা বুঝতে চেষ্টা করি”, গবেষণার ব্যপারে তার নিজস্ব দৃষ্টিভঙ্গিটা এমনই। এই মজার মানুষটার সাথেও বেশ আন্তরিক আলাপচারিতার সৌভাগ্য হয় আমার। পরবর্তীতে আরও একবার তাঁর সাথে দেখা হলে নতুন করে পরিচয় দিতে হলো না, বরং তিনি নিজেই চিনে ফেললেন! আমি খুবই সম্মানিতবোধ করলাম! বাংলাদেশ নিয়ে তিনিও যে খুব ওয়াকিফহাল, তাঁর সাথে কথায় তা ঠিকই বোঝা গেলো!

কেবল নোবেল বিজয়ী বিজ্ঞানীদের সাথেই নয় পরিচয় হয় নানা দেশ থেকে আশা তরুণ গবেষকদের সাথে। জানা হয় তাদের তাদের গবেষনার বিষয় বস্তু সম্পর্কেও। এর মাঝে একদিন হঠাৎ ইউরোপিয়ান ব্রডকাস্টিং ইউনিয়নের সাথে সংশ্লিষ্ট ইউরোভিশন নেটওয়ার্ক এর এক সাক্ষাতকার এ আমার ডাক পড়ে! পাঁচ দেশের পাঁচ জন নারী গবেষক নিয়ে “বিজ্ঞানে নারীর অগ্রগতি” বিষয়ক এক আলোচনায় ক্যামেরার সামনে দাড়ালাম আমি। ভিন্ন একটা অভিজ্ঞতা! যাহোক, এই দিকে সম্মেলন এর ফাঁকেই আমি, বিপ্লব আর শিশির ঘুরে নিলাম ‘কন্সট্যান্স লেক’ এর পাশে ছোট্ট সাজানো শহর লিন্ডাও।

খুব কাছে থেকে নাকি হাতি দেখলে ঠিক আন্দাজ করা যায় না। আমার অবস্থাও এর ব্যতিক্রম ছিল না। কেমন করে কেটে গেল ২৮ জুন থেকে ৩ জুলাই সম্মেলন এর দিনগুলো! বই এর পাতা আর ওয়েবপেজ এ যাদের দেখে, যাদের গবেষণার কথা জানতে পেরেই তৃপ্ত হতে হয়, তাদেরকেই খুব কাছে থেকে দেখা হয়ে গেল, কিছুটা জানাও হয়ে গেল হয়ত! বিজ্ঞান এর গবেষণার জগতে শীর্ষে থাকা এই মানুষগুলো ব্যক্তি হিসেবে কী অসাধারণভাবে সাধারণ, কী ঊদার আর বিনয়ী, আমার এই উপলব্ধিটাই আমার লিন্ডাও অভিজ্ঞতার সবচেয়ে বড় প্রাপ্তি।


Friday, July 9, 2010

Miscellaneous Moments: Lindau Meeting, 2009

Lindau Meeting was full of happening I would like to share. Not only attending lectures of Nobel Laureates, but also discussion with them informally and warm interaction with young researchers are the essence of such rendezvous.

Professor Dr. Molina, giving his Lecture

Informal Discussion Session with Nobel Laureate

Personal Interaction with Nobel Laureate Dr. Martin Chalfie

I cannot but add this photo here! I look so attentive listening the lecture of Nobel Laureate!

We had a lively interaction with American young researchers at the evening American get together. We discussed the research philosophy with the context of our homeland.

Me and Biplob with two American young researchers

Another gathering was worth remembering, that is Indian Dinner. We, all the young researchers from India, Germany, Nepal, Rumania and Bangladesh at the dinner.

Young Researchers, utilizing the Dance Floor!

Nobel Laureates also No Less! Prof. Peter Agre, dancing with a female researcher!

We had a grand food there!

At the final day, we had a great trip of boat to Mainau Island. It was worth remembering indeed!Me, shishir and Biplob in the Boat

I had a very informal lively conversation with Sir Kroto in the Boat!

My last photo here! The beautiful evening Lindau at the side of Lake Constance!

Take Home Lessons!

Lindau was supposed to be a meeting between generations whose explicit goal was the transfer of knowledge. But the meeting achieved an objective bigger than this; it also transferred dreams and inspiration to all who attended. I am a young researcher myself and I thought that there are many invaluable take-home messages to be learnt from the life and work of the scientists who participated in this wonderful gathering. Some modest thoughts:

1. Don't try to win a Nobel Prize!
I was going to say this last but thought I would note it at the beginning. This may come as a disappointment to many researchers dreaming and having the explicit goal of winning a Nobel. But such a thought would miss the point made by every single laureate that attended the meeting. I think I can safely say that every one of the laureates would tell us that he was never working toward a prize. Or rather that he was always working toward a prize; the prize was the deep satisfaction that comes from understanding the world, from the pleasure of finding things out, from helping humanity through the power of science. Scientists do science for the joy of discovery. A Nobel or any other prize can only be a happy but unintended side-effect of the work. The Nobel is undoubtedly a great honor and rewards the most creative and important work, but an aspiration to win the prize can only sidetrack us from the great and overriding goals of science that are beyond prizes, individuals and institutions. The Gist is, Don't covet prizes, covet the excitement of probing the frontiers of knowledge. After a hundred years that might be the only thing that counts.

2. Don't count on serendipity, but be prepared for it!
Peter Agre was working on isolating the Rh factor protein that is important in blood transfusion. When he also isolated a curious unidentified protein, he was intrigued and wise enough to investigate this side product. His curiosity led to the prizewinning discovery of aquaporins or water channels. When Herbert Brown was investigating the reaction of the compound diborane with certain organic halides, his assistant reacted several halides with diborane to investigate their reactions. Only one halide did not react as expected. Rather than discard the result as an outlier, Brown investigated the contaminant in the halide that was causing the strange result. His curiosity led him to discover the prizewinning hydroboration reaction of alkenes with diborane.

Serendipity is the retrospective name given to careful investigation of unexpected observations. Serendipity in science needs the highest standards of curiosity and perseverance. Echoing another cliched saying, a Nobel Prize winner is a scientist who sees what everything sees but thinks what nobody thinks. Don't discount the great role of serendipity in discovery, but be prepared to recognize it when it comes knocking at your door. Keep your eyes open and your mind even more so.

3. Work on big problems!
This might sound obvious, but it's not always recognized. The key point here is that most of science is hard and it's all too easy to spend a lot of time working on small problems, time that would promise more returns (and more risk!) when spent on big problems. At the same time it is important not to underestimate the importance of working out trivial details; it's the overarching goal that must be big. To work on big problems we have to do whatever is necessary; find the smartest and most accessible people in our field and try to work with them, constantly scour the literature and look for trends and keep on asking fundamental questions.

Sometimes working on big problems might overwhelm us because of their sheer complexity. Yet the history of the Nobel Prizes shows that such perseverance often pays off. All these prizewinners demonstrated the value of working on big problems, and they all recognized a big problem when they saw one. At the same time they were not sure they would succeed and their efforts were not contingent on a high probability of success. They worked on these problems primarily because of the intellectual challenge they posed, not only for the results they would yield.

At Lindau every Nobel Prize winner demonstrated that he worked on a big problem, whether it was visualization of gene expression (Tsien, Chalifie, Shimomura), investigating important organic reactions (Schrock, Grubbs), investigating the effects of reactive molecules on an important atmospheric component (Molina, Crutzen, Rowland) finding out the fate of proteins (Ciechanover, Hershko, Rose) or exploring fundamental methods for determining biological structure (Ernst, Wuthrich, Michel, Huber). The message from all these laureates was that one should work on fundamental problems with abandon, and let the rest take care of itself.

4. Collaborate!
Science is now an international endeavor. Many of the most pressing scientific problems that currently concern us are interdisciplinary in nature and it can be beyond the capability of a scientist from a single field to solve them. Biology is an especially salient example of the era of multidisciplinary research.

Roger Tsien started out by designing molecules that would exhibit fluorescence but he had to collaborate with molecular biologists to find out how they and the green fluorescent protein could be expressed and visualized in cells. Kurt Wuthrich and Richard Ernst developed pioneering NMR methods but they had to collaborate with protein chemists and molecular biologists who had to purify and obtain the proteins they needed to study. Collaboration not only involves amiable interaction with colleagues from a different field but it involves the ability to explain own problems clearly and patiently to them, and it certainly involves knowing the basics of colleagues' fields. Collaboration is exciting since it enables us to learn about a variety of fields and approaches while at the same time diversifying our own field.

Curiously collaboration needs some human skills that, a friendly demeanor and powers of persuasion. It seems that interdisciplinary scientific research teaches us not only about science but also about engaging with people. Most of the Lindau laureates demonstrated the value of such interaction.

5. Persevere!
This sounds even more obvious, and yet this is perhaps the single most important quality that has distinguished Nobel Prize winners from other smart people, or highly successful scientists from others. Both Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton claimed that the reason they were successful was not because they were unusually intelligent but because they stuck to problems for months and sometimes years. Once we are imbibed with the quest to solve a particular problem then perseverance should naturally follow.

6. Don't stop dreaming!
All the above qualities and traits are simply preludes to the most important one; don't give up on dreams. Science has always been made possible by people who pushed the frontiers of available knowledge, who constantly asked themselves "What if", who playfully sidestepped objections and opposition to pursue their favorite idea. That's really all the Lindau laureates were concerned with when they did their pioneering work. Let's just explore the wonderful ideas of scientific discovery; the rest should follow and we should rest assured.

In the end all we need to remember is something that someone said hundreds of years ago when he also alluded to the childhood fascination for science and nature. Let us be that little boy he was referring to, and then maybe we can aspire to be the grown man he became when he uttered these words: “I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay undiscovered before me“ by Isaac Newton!


Science is for all: Lively Female Participation

Science is for all. I witnessed it in Lindau Meeting seeing lively large participation of female researchers. Scientific excellence is scarcely achievable without the potential of highly talented women. It is therefore particularly important to integrate leading female scientists of the future into networks of cutting-edge scientific research at an early stage. The Nobel Laureate Meetings offer a unique platform to this end. It is clearly evident in Lindau Meeting that indicates just how successful women are in the world of science.

Pakistani female young researchers at dinner

This year, 580 young researchers from 67 countries attended the meeting where female participation was 44%. Day by day, the increasing proportion of female participation in such meeting as young researcher shows a ray of hope of women’s foot stepping in the field of natural science and research activities.

Indian Women Researchers with their Traditional Dress!

Female researcher under veil, in the Lecture session

A different experience I gathered there. First time, I faced the Television interview. Five women researchers were called on an Interview on: Women in Science”.

We, five female researchers attended the TV interview of Eurovision from the European Broadcasting Union!

Climate Change and Sustainability debated: the Heat is ON

Last day the attendees of the 59th Meeting of Nobel laureates piled onto a futuristic looking boat and travelled to the beautiful island of Mainau for a panel discussion about sustainability and climate change.

The panel line up was pretty impressive: Rajendra Pachauri and Thomas Stocker from the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), Nobel laureates Mario Molina and Richard Schrock, Cornelia Quennet-Thielen from the German Ministry of education and research, and author Bjorn Lomborg.

The discussion was on the beautiful island of Mainau, about two hours by boat from Lindau. The more than five hundred students, guests and journalists were sitting on chairs in the open air for more than two hours. The atmosphere was hot, humid and largely unpleasant. At the end of the discussion these qualities for the weather had translated into part of the tone of the argument.

The panel had come here specifically to spur their student audience into working towards fixing the global problems of climate change and sustainability – and whilst they all agreed something needed to be done (and fast), where young researchers should start looking for these solutions proved to be a far more difficult point to pin them down on.

Current approaches - such as solar panels, geoengineering and nuclear fission - were heavily criticized by various members of the panel. Causing one student attendee to stand up and ask for suggestions on what specific green technologies young researchers should be working on, the response? Silence, followed by question dodging. Pachauri did eventually suggest developing small turbines for use as biomass gasifiers and developing a route for turning agricultural cellulose waste into fuel at a local level.

Stocker focused on the actual physical effects of climate change including the melting of polar ice and the destruction of natural habitats. He also briefly discussed some of the measures that have been proposed for mitigating the problem but especially criticized geoengineering solutions, which he thinks would be unpredictable and expensive. But he is lukewarm towards geoengineering most of all because he thinks that it does not address the root cause and simply tries to make the problem disappear by pushing it under the rug.

Mario Molina has observed first hand the effects of human activities on climate at the most fundamental scientific level. He now spends part of his time at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, California and part in Mexico. Molina works with economists and politicians in Mexico and California and tries to have a very well rounded perspective of the problem. Molina is also the only person at the Lindau meeting who included new generations of nuclear reactors as an important part of the solution to the climate change problem. In both his statement in the panel discussion as well as his earlier talk, Molina stressed his concern about tipping points which could cause irreversible changes in climate. We must not forget that the period of relatively temperate climate that we have been enjoying for about ten thousand years is a rare event in the climate history of our planet, an interglacial period between ice ages or glaciations. Ice ages seem to be earth's favorite state of being. At least based on her history, there is no reason to believe that our earth's climate would be extraordinarily resilient to large changes. Molina is concerned that tipping points induced by anthropogenic global warming might easily consign the earth to one of these common states.

The opening statements of the panel discussion were followed by a few questions. A common question was about how we could encourage ordinary people to do their bit against global warming and change their personal habits. I have not yet received the answer to this question and I don't think any of the panelists had a good one. But everyone acknowledged that only by providing information about the serious consequences of climate change on a personal level could one make a difference.

The question and answer session also turned into a heated debate when panelist Lomborg clashed over most of the others regarding the proper dissemination of information. Most panelists and especially Molina and Pachauri stressed the constant need for making sure that people have all the relevant information. Global warming has unfortunately become such a highly politicized issue that most of the time the information that people get is biased. However Lomborg challenged this view and said that careful studies indicate that information people had in 2008 was comparable to that in 1988 and yet people have not changed.

After much back-and-forth between members of the panel, the audience was invited to ask questions, but disappointingly there was time for only a few from the young researchers. One of the highlights, however, was when recent (GFP) Nobel Laureate Tsien stood up from the first row of the audience and challenged the panelists to give specific examples of scientific and technological research that the assembled audience should consider working on, noting that some of the brightest young scientific minds in the world were present. There really weren't very many focused answers, but solar energy and nanotechnology were mentioned — the consensus was that work should be done in many different areas.

Is this what will happen? Only time will tell. Human history has repeatedly and remarkably demonstrated that truth and wisdom can be snatched from the jaws of defeat and despair by human dignity, rationality and common sense. There is every hope that this will be the case with the problem of climate change, and it is only that hope that will keep moving us onward.
In December, the UNs Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place in Copenhagen, where the world’s political leaders will meet and hopefully agree a global plan on who cuts what and when - in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. If these targets are agreed – and this is still a big if – the world’s scientific leaders will need to work out what technology is needed to reach them. And from that day’s discussion it became abundantly clear to me that this may prove to be an even bigger problem.


Panel Discussion on the Role and Future of Chemistry for Renewable Energy

As well as the lectures, one of the morning sessions featured a panel discussion about the role and future of chemistry for renewable energy. Sitting on the panel were Nobel Laureates Ertl, Grubbs, Kohn, Kroto, Marcus, Molina and Rowland. The moderator made an opening address that outlined some of the challenges we face in this particular regard and then each Nobelist was invited to respond.

“Because chemistry is faced with challenges from the environment, climate, energy, medicine” said Gerhard Ertl, who got the Nobel in 2007, for investigating the individual steps involved in the synthesis of ammonia in detail, at the atomic level. Working in the area of catalysis, his big dream is to finally have hydrogen driven economy, where hydrogen is derived from breaking down water (H2O).

In a nutshell: of all the gases that are causing havoc in the atmosphere, five most important ones are: carbon dioxide, which lives in the atmosphere for more than a century; Nitrous oxide, which has a lifetime of about 120 years; methane which lives in the atmosphere for only about 8 to 9 years; and then there are chlorofluorocarbons, ozone, etc.

Ertl of course stressed on the fact that since energy cannot be created (it’s constant); it needs to be transformed from one form to the other for which science has to work with doubled-trebled effort towards converting solar into thermal or photovoltaic energy.

Robert Grubbs (2005) thinks new materials hold the key as they’d provide new storage medium that last longer and are safer.

Walter Kohn (1998), a great proponent of solar and wind energy, believes mankind needs to move from being a fossil fuel civilization to a ‘solar civilization’.

Mario Molina and Sherwood Rowland, who together won the Nobel in 1995 for studying atmospheric chemistry and showing the world the ozone depletion which eventually led to the Montreal Protocol goading the world to curb CFCs from the atmosphere, are still at it, convincing the world that the atmospheric heating in last the 150 years far supersedes the heating combined in the last 450,000 years. Molina’s worry is: “While making and selling cars are good for the economy, the challenge now is to convince people not to use it.”

Rowland was lamenting the fact that he had to say something original after following six other Nobel Laureates! But he did. For Rowland, thinking of new ways of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is a feasible route for chemists. “I already see some proposals but most of it I don’t believe in.”

Well, his skepticism is not alone. Sir Harold Kroto worries that the world is far more tuning into strategic research, clearly moving away from the ‘blue sky’ research which is so very important for discoveries. “Historically, most major discoveries have come from unexpected areas.” He however thinks if we could follow nature and figure out how trees convert water into hydrogen and oxygen we’d crack all energy problems, but “trees are not stupid” and have evaded humans from copying their technique, so to say!

Panel discussion on the Role of Chemistry in Renewable Energy

So, the discussion went all over — from fusion science, which has taken 35 years and will probably take another 75 to solve the energy problem; molecular machines akin to the nano devices that our body uses to convert energy; smart materials that can directly convert solar energy into electricity; rechargeable batteries that would store sufficient energy for a substantially long period and so on.

What was most striking was that at an age and after a stage (winning Nobel), many in other professions would hang their armour but not these scientists. If the zeal is strong, the concern is even bigger that they should do more for the society. “We should do more…make people understand that we, scientists, are decent people. When it comes to information transfer to society, we can still do better”, said Kroto.
After some questions from the young researchers, much discussion ensued about the best way to tackle our energy problems.

Sir Harry Kroto: the Bucky Ball Fame

Next Sir Harry Kroto (Bucky ball fame) took to the stage - if someone has never seen him talk he really should! Sir Harry Kroto won the Nobel Prize for discovering the soccer-ball-shaped fullerenes, strangely-structured carbon molecules also known as bucky balls. These molecules led to the development of carbon nanotubes and the burgeoning field of nanoscience. My favorite quote of his was – ‘if no-one finds a use for C60 soon, I’ll have to give my Nobel Prize back’.

One of the star speakers at the 59th Lindau Nobel meetings, Kroto had the audience in raptures while talking about ‘Science, Society and Sustainability’. In dozens of slides full of pictures, data, graphics and animation, in which his exposition of chemistry took just about 45 or 60 seconds, his talk epitomized how science has to be made attractive to be appealing to lure young students.

Describing his early days, when the first award of his life came from designing a book jacket, rather than science, Kroto entertained some 600 people in the audience, convincing them that merely doing Nobel-class science is not enough. “Remember humanity and forget the rest.” He began by recounting the influences that ultimately made him become a scientist, and briefly compared his career path with that of the actor Sir Ian McKellen, who attended the same school at the same time as him. After touching on some scientific themes such as chemistry and nanotechnology, and admitting that microwave spectroscopy was the only subject he really fully understood, he moved on to discuss broader societal aspects of science. In particular, the relationship between religion and science came under sharp focus. Towards the end of his talk, the theme of sustainability — a common one at the meeting — was discussed, with Kroto suggesting that “we really can't sustain our consumption of energy unless we work out a way to split water efficiently.”
“They promised payback in this lifetime”, said Kroto, with a pun on the way humans are destroying the planet with blatant disregard for future generations.

Above picture of Harry Kroto with a bucky ball made out of balloons on his head, simply make one understand why (despite causing some religious controversy) he was one of the biggest hits!

He has a bunch of education initiatives going on and he intends to link all the teachers in the world in the next 4-5 years. Ambitious; but he is using his Nobel and Knight status the hilt. He spends a lot of his time spreading the good word of science - through workshops, lectures and the like, and is quite the show man.

I was most touched by Dr. Kroto's thought provoking lecture. Not only did the great talk encompass ease of understanding but it also embodied insights on how he came to his discoveries as well as how he is using his position to help better society. He reminded me that we as scientist need to bridge the gap with non-scientists as well as prepare and encourage our youth that science is important and it are nothing to be afraid of.

His fame was better understood seeing the jam-packed audiences during the discussion session. This informal discussion with the laureates increased my knowledge in the fields of physics and chemistry. I learned that lines between the fields of chemistry, physics, and medicine/physiology are slowly intertwining and overlapping with each other. The scientific community as whole has gained from the meshing of the disciplines.

Sir Kroto, this chemistry celeb exploited his stardom while giving pose with young researchers!

At the end of this informal discussion (Chatting, I better say!), I introduced myself to this “Chemistry Celeb”, and had the most cordial conversation including serious issues of Bangladesh. Once again, I found the Nobel Laureate “clued-up” of my country Bangladesh! I am honored!

Rowland, Crutzen & Molina: Climate Change is real and they can save us!

It is possible that a perceptive science teacher in Ohio of the 1940’s may have helped save the planet. For that teacher allowed a bright, responsible pupil to look after the local volunteer weather station. And that pupil was Sherwood Rowland, who grew up to be the scientist who realized that chlorofluorocarbons contribute to ozone depletion.

“Chemistry definitely was not one of my favorite subjects”, Paul Crutzen admitted! But, his destiny says something different. Though, started his career as a civil engineer, longing for an academic career, Crutzen gained a job as a computer programmer at Stockholm University’s Department of Meteorology. He used his spare time to gain the equivalent of a Master’s in mathematics, mathematical statistics, and meteorology and a PhD in meteorology. While much of the work at Stockholm was aimed at acid rain, Crutzen says he was given free rein, and much help, in his ozone studies. He discovered that nitrous oxide (N2O), produced naturally by soil bacteria, rises into the stratosphere, where solar energy splits it into two reactive compounds, NO and NO2. These remain active for some time, breaking ozone (O3) down into molecular oxygen (O2). This is his research made him to get a phone call from Stockholm! This is the tale of how a chemistry phobic turned to a Nobelist in chemistry!!!

Next, Mario Molina is no less! During the post-doctoral research he went to work with F.S. Rowland at the University of California, Irvine, where he found a new challenge in investigating the behavior of certain industrial compounds – chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs - in the atmosphere and, beyond that, in the environment as a whole. It took just three months for Rowland and Molina to develop a theory predicting that these compounds would cause depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer, a theory that was subsequently shown to be correct and which led to an international agreement banning the use of the industrial compounds causing the damage.

Thus in this Lindau meeting we have all three of the Nobel laureates who were recognized for their work on the chemistry of chlorofluorocarbons in the stratosphere which is responsible for the destruction of the ozone layer. Their work, which met with considerable corporate and political opposition, delineated the role of chlorofluorocarbons in causing the destruction of the ozone layer. The work led the way to further studies of human manipulation of climate and encouraged awareness of global warming.
The lectures had been set with the Laureates Rowland and Crutzen, a strong focus on greenhouse gases and climate change. From their focus have Rowland and Crutzen added, but there were strong overlaps of Crutzen introductory lecture and Rowland’s. Crutzen said that with "but I have the slides better."

F. Sherwood Rowland’s slide were followed by a basic discussion of greenhouse and gases and necessary requirements for a molecule to act as a greenhouse gas (it should have three atoms and it should have a reasonably long lifetime in the atmosphere). Rowland further talked about radiative forcings including the albedo effect mediated by clouds, snow and ice. A discussion of ice core measurements yielding the earth's record of CO2 and temperature changes follows.
Rowland's talk was followed by that of his fellow Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen who reiterated several of Rowland's points. Crutzen starts by noting the tremendous increase in human and cattle population, industrial output, water and energy usage and urbanization that has taken place over the last three centuries. The problem of water usage is especially acute and never readily appreciated; it takes 12,000 liters of water to produce a liter of coffee for instance. Nitrogen fixation has also been tremendously accelerated with the invention of the Haber-Bosch process. All these developments, while raising our standard of living, have also put significant strain on our biosphere and atmosphere.

During the Discussion session, Crutzen also coined the term Anthropocene to describe the geological epoch in which we are now to where the people have emerged as a veritable terra-forming species, like the glaciers of the last ice age. Which is characterized by ever Anthroprocene acceleration, we consume more and more water, more and more oil, more and more of everything and other species are dying out for it. Human activities are affecting, and in many cases out-competing, natural processes, for instance causing the ‘ozone hole’, the rise of greenhouse gases with their impact on climate, urban and regional air pollution, ‘acid rain’, species extinction, with all their consequences for human and ecosystem health.

Next day, Molina began with the basics of climate change and acknowledges the work of the IPCC in establishing a consensus on anthropomorphic climate change. He talks about the common objections of skeptics who point to changes in the climate throughout earth's history and make this an argument for challenging the concern about recent changes in climate.
So as usual, the cardinal question; what are the solutions? As Molina and many others have noted, at least some drastic changes in our personal and global habits would be necessary to deal with climate change. Alternative energies are key in mitigating CO2 emissions, as is also carbon capture. Gratifyingly Molina also noted the inclusion of nuclear power in future energy options and especially notes the safety and efficiency of the new generation of nuclear reactors. Molina concluded with a list of solutions to mitigating climate change. These include pricing or taxing carbon emissions and further research in energy technology.

In the quest of solution of Climate Change and Global warming, his saying, “People have to follow the Red Light”! According to Molina, “unless we inculcate personal habits and social responsibilities, use energy more efficiently, control population and reach out to others in improving the state of our world, we may indeed end up playing with our planet, and that we don't want to do.” This is Molina who was trying to point some solution towards Climate change. Beyond this crucial fact, I found him as a modest personality at the evening discussion session.

With Mario Molina at the Discussion Session

He is a chemical engineer! I came across him with a big grin as if I found someone from my field. He didn’t disappoint me either. We had a healthy conversation, even regarding the Climate condition in developing country like Bangladesh. I found him so knowledgeable about these contemporary burning issues!

Trio of GFP: Gem of Wisdom

Biology is not my cup of tea. For some unreasonable reason behind, I always feel such repulsion. Even, I took Environmental Science course instead of Biochemical Engineering course during my undergraduate study, only to avoid biology. So, the “synergistic effect” of at least three lectures made me “little bit understandable” of the term “GFP- Green Fluorescent Protein”, while those lessons were given by the three Spotters of this GFP!!!

Last year's chemistry Nobel Prize was one of the most softball predictions ever made for the Nobel Prize. GFP has become so widely used in chemistry, biology and medicine that it is easy to forget that someone had to discover it and develop the technology. Martin Chalfie, Osamu Shimomura and Roger Tsien, the trio was awarded Nobel Prize in 2008 for the discovery and development of green fluorescent protein (GFP), which is now an integral part of the life science.

Osamu Shimomura's talk is essentially historical. He starts by reviewing different types of fluorescent reactions in nature resulting in bioluminescence. A particularly striking example of bioluminescence concerns Aequorin, a small photoprotein in the jellyfish Aequoria victoria. In the presence of calcium ions another ring opening reaction takes place that produces blue fluorescence. Because of its dependence on calcium the reaction is a valuable one for measuring intracellular calcium levels.

Interestingly, Shimomura stated that most of the above findings were made before the 1980s. GFP and the revolution came later, but it would not have been possible if the foundation for understanding and studying bioluminescence had not been previous laid.

Later, Martin Chalfie starts by noting that the winning the Nobel Prize got him Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame. He showed us a Google news snapshot taken the day he won the prize which demonstrated that he had finally made it into the rarefied heights of the land of celebrities, very much in the same league as Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse!

Incidentally Chalfie used some unpublished results that his wife, who was also a biochemist, was working on. In return Chalfie had to promise his wife in writing that he would make coffee, cook her a French dinner and take out the garbage every night. This is one important take-home message for students and future scientists; science can involve some radical compromises with life.

Chalfie ended with a couple of important lessons about science:
1. Science is cumulative.
2. The students and postdocs are the real innovators in science. Many times it is easy to forget that they are the originator of some of the key details of Nobel Prize-winning ideas.
3. Basic research is essential and is the engine that drives innovation. Science cannot be done with too specific goals in mind.
4. All life should be studied, not just model organisms.

After the lecture, I took the chance to talk with this ever smiling down-to-earth personality, Chalfie. He seemed so happy to talk about his wife and most importantly her contribution to his research career as well as personal life.

Martin Chalfie with his big grin!

Roger Tsien talks a little about his own background. He is the youngest of 3 brothers and comes from a family of engineers and wanted to find a unique 'ecological' niche for himself. Charles Darwin was another youngest child, and he did manage to carve his own niche. Tsien was fascinated by colors from an early stage and became interested in biology and chemistry. One of the key points emphasized by Tsien was that young researchers should explore interdisciplinary areas where traditional barriers may prevent the transfer of knowledge.

Tsien, giving the lecture

Tsien then mentions some of the limitations of fluorescent proteins. They can be too big and their excitation wavelengths may not penetrate tissue. Plus the obvious scientific and moral problems associated with effecting gene transfer of GFP into humans are apparent.

Tsien concludes by talking a little about his current research which involves investigating metastasis. The work includes imaging tumors and nerves with GFP. Green tumors are easier to visualize and remove with surgery than non-fluorescent tumors. At the same time nerves should not be removed, and labeling them with a different color helps to avoid this. Imaging techniques provide a very sensitive technique for surgeons to distinguish unwanted tumors from necessary nerve growth. Tsien ended with a spectacular image of a plate displaying bacteria that have been colored by different fluorescent protein expression.

I can contemplate that Tsien, Chalfie's and Shimomura's talks held many notable lessons.

1. “You should take risks and work on big problems; even if you don't succeed at least you would have tried and learnt something.”
2. “Learn to make lemonade from lemon, sometimes persistence pay off” – Tsien.
3. “Accept that your best papers may be rejected from fashionable journals, or may be accepted for the wrong reasons.”
This was Tsien referring to the fact that his groundbreaking Science paper containing the crystal structure of GFP was initially going to be rejected after two bad referee reports, and was only accepted after the editors heard that a similar paper was to be published in another journal. Chalfie had similar problems when he wanted to have the word ‘new’ in his 1994 Science paper title, and then one of the editors thought the green-colored journal cover he had designed would look better in another color!
4. “Try to find important problems that put your neuroses to constructive work. Try to find projects that give you some sensual pleasure” – Tsien
5. ‘Prizes are ultimately matter of luck, so avoid being motivated or impressed by it’

Richard Ernst: More than a Scientist, a Philosopher

Anyone who ever had doubts that the Nobel Prize winner can maintain any interest beyond the science, who ever thought, for scientists the world was a purely rational matter, was informed that morning better, while Richard R. Ernst, Nobel laureate of 1991, took the stage to a plea for a look beyond the scientific plate boundary.

The start was in the early day’s surface chemist Gerhard Ertl made a few comments about the complexity of the surface chemistry. His colleague, Richard R. Ernst started immediately after the counter-program. Chemistry To him it was only in passing, to the fascination with foreign cultures and their art, and (life) philosophy all the more.

The material importance is located to the field is Ernst reproduction in resolution in NMR technology was fulfilled by the fact that the initial reflex of mind in the production of human cerebral integrity is quite immortal fact in this aura.

For seriousness - and this is certainly an important piece of advice to young researchers - it is perfectly clear: scientists do themselves a favor if they dedicate themselves exclusively and with blinkers on just one thing. Although we have a goal in mind (namely, the science or just a "tribute in Stockholm"), but the paths of science are easier to deal with when one has two legs: “Passions & Professions”.

One might caricature an ambitious scientist as a one-legged person hopping along a dusty road without any chance to reach ever the remote goal. He or she can move much more efficiently by developing a second leg beyond the scientific discipline. And the creative interaction between the professional and the passionate leg may lead ultimately to the inspiration he or she is longing for.
To start seriously reminded of the all too familiar, Albert Einstein and his violin. But there are many other great scientists who used their musical passions: Richard Feynman as a drummer and Manfred Eigen as a pianist.

Ernst Philosophy!

“Curiosity and creativity - so serious - and ideally go hand in hand. The world is wide open for new surprises and discoveries. Here there is only one piece of advice: "Keep your eyes open." – Ernst saying!

Ernst described his own career for him 1968 - resulted in a few years ago researchers in the U.S. - returned to Switzerland and on many trips to Asia. Ernst went to Kathmandu, then more destinations in Asia, And in the Himalayas in Tibet, he discovered his passion: the traditional Tibetan folk art and culture, the Buddhist philosophy. Ernst's own interests extend to Tibetan art and Buddhist philosophy, and he is illustrating this interest through several paintings and illustrating. He talked about Buddhist 'enlightened beings' that have been displayed on many beautiful paintings. Some key tenets of Buddhist philosophy including the eightfold way were also briefly discussed. Everything was connected with everything so seriously towards the end of his presentation.

And then of course there are still a bridge between the scientist Richard R. Ernst, and his enthusiasm for Tibet and Buddhism: he mentioned the use of infrared and Raman spectroscopic techniques to analyze the paintings ("Unfortunately NMR is useless in these cases"- as per Ernst). Ernst himself has tried his hand at a little bit of painting in the old tradition, using primitive, colored chemicals. His enthusiasm has led him to install a Raman spectrometer in his bedroom that provides instruction during sleepless nights. Raman spectroscopy reveals the use of several rather simple chemicals in the paintings, including malachite green, carbon black, cinnabar and vegetable dyes. The conclusion is that extra-curricular activities form an essential 'second leg' of your life and ended up in earnest with the advice to the audience:
“Do not become one-sided nerds. Never forget your passions!”

I just wondered, one lecture that nicely combined science and art was delivered by Richard Ernst. The main message of his talk was that to be a complete and well-rounded individual, one should explore interests beyond the boundaries of science by looking to the arts and humanities.

At the end of this enchanting presentation, I was like rubbing my eyes in astonishment! I didn’t want to miss the chance to take some moments with this great philosopher. So, I rushed to catch him after the lecture.

Ernst, just after his “beyond science” Presentation!

He was amiable enough to talk and perhaps, having kind of philosophic mood. The summary of his points (of course, beyond science!!) towards me gave me a thought about the significance of being a good human rather than being a good scientist!

Gerhard Ertl: a Tradition of Nobel on Catalysis, a Classic of Future

Exactly one hundred years ago the chemist Wilhelm Ostwald received the Nobel prize for his work on the topic of catalysis. And as we see today his research work have really been pathbreaking: Without catalysts modern chemistry would not be possible. It is only logical, that catalysis also plays a major role in this year's Nobel Laureates Meeting.

The start of 2009 Lindau Meeting was made the sole winner of 2007: Gerhard Ertl. With Him, the organizers have taken in my opinion a good choice for the opening of the lecture series, he is in the tradition of a number of Nobel Prize winners: Wilhelm Ostwald (1909), Fritz Haber (1918) and Carl Bosch (1931).

And so he presented himself well. "From atoms to complexity - reactions on surfaces" will be the title of his speech, focusing the exciting effects that happen when solids are coated with gossamer surfaces (that work as catalyst). First, he paid tribute to the foundations that had been created for the Ostwald catalysis sensitize the public then for the topic of nitrogen fixation. Accordingly threatened at the beginning of the 20th Century, a shortage of nitrogenous fertilizers, since natural resources) (eg, cow manure can not be arbitrarily increased. A solution of the problem was indeed ubiquitous, because nitrogen is a major component of air (80%), but the crux of the story is that nitrogen is chemically hardly reactive. One has only to overcome this inertia and fix nitrogen in a more accessible form, such as ammonia.

Here Ertl brings into play the catalysts that Haber has discovered 100 years ago fairly accurately for the reaction between nitrogen and hydrogen. They facilitate the synthesis of ammonia and were used by Bosch in 1910 in an industrial process, the Haber-Bosch process. Every chemistry student knows exactly, but the exact mechanism at the molecular level has been elucidated until much later, by Gerhard Ertl. That He was eventually thanked the Nobel Prize. In principle, the gas molecules interact (nitrogen and hydrogen) with the catalyst surface and thus can be easily divided and recombined. Before he goes into detail, says the winner but it was "too complicated" for his listeners and moves to another popular application of catalysts, the car.

Here the same principles apply, only the gases that are raising awareness of other Ertl: Carbon monoxide and oxygen. With the help of modern physical methods, it was possible for him to observe the motion of atoms on the surface, or map the concentration profile of certain gases in real time. He shows videos with beautiful circles and spirals, which (similar are the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction) is a result of oscillatory processes, and reveal a mysterious order of the microcosm. His comparisons with paintings by Paul Klee and Van Gogh are not far-fetched. Ertl concluded by demonstrating turbulence resulting from chemical waves. At this point, he said, we have progressed from atoms to complexity, requiring a different kind of understanding. At the end he gives us a little philosophy on the way: "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

At the evening informal discussion session, he also told a story, and we learned that he really is a physicist and he was done by his mentor at the interface between gas and solid attention as a research topic. As the first steps were not very successful, he draws into serious consideration the science of the nail to hang, but his wife said he should remain scientists. A year later he became a professor.

He encouraged us young scientists to follow several of curiosity, even with the risk of failure. It is the privilege of a researcher to be allowed to make mistakes. One should not believe what others say, just as new can be explored.

The development of chemistry is his opinion, to more complex systems, such as living organisms, and away from chemical equilibrium. To describe these states to be especially advanced mathematical skills are required. Thus were the chemists of the future mathematician or a physicist. Note: This says a physicist!

Opening Ceremony: Illustration of Grandeur & Splendor of Colorful Lindau!

We gathered through the scenic streets to the Bodensee where the sessions was going to be held in the Inselhalle. The meeting began in front of a packed audience in the Inselhalle. The region is known for apples and these grace the tables outside. Students and scholars from all nationalities are seen, eager to open their minds.

Countess Bettina Bernadotte, the President of the Council, opened the 59th Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau, for the first time in her role as President of the Council after having taken over the office from Countess Sonja Bernadotte (1944–2008) in October of the previous year. In her opening speech, Countess Bernadotte emphasized the uniqueness of the Nobel Laureate Meetings: “It is about people, not papers”. The aim of the Lindau Meetings is to interest people in research and science as well as to inspire scientists and to bring them together from around the world.

Countess Bettina Bernadotte with all the Laureates presented the Meeting, 2009

Here is an interesting fact! One might watch curiously, who wear which colour around their neck. Which color do young researchers have? What does orange keychains mean? And most importantly: How could I recognize a Nobel laureate?

When the ceremony is officially opened by Countess Bettina Bernadotte, the view in the audience offered me a truly "colorful" picture. A lot had been said about the sense and meaning of the different keychain colors. These were the accreditation and release of the keychains. There are young researchers from many different countries, renowned scientists next to young students and press peoples as well. And as diverse the participants are, as colorful are their keychains on their neck!

To meet the answers to these questions, I got to know the Lindau Committee’s meticulous work plan. Finally, I figured out the color code of keychains, those were accredited to identify different groups attended the meeting.
And here comes the categories:
• Green is for members of the foundation and the curatorship as well as scientific leaders
• Black is for members of the administrative office
• White is for alumni
• Orange is for service providers
• Dark blue and red are for further guests
• Gray is for young researchers
• Light Blue is for laureates
• Yellow for the press

Finally, I cannot but mention that, among the many colored ribbons, there is only one category, which are invited to afternoon informal discussions with the laureates: the young researchers. Not only that, this ’gray’ sign was also complimentary ticket for several public services at Lindau for young researchers. What a privilege!!!

Pre Lindau Moments: My Follies Cost a Lot!

It started with a dilemma while The Daily Newspaper Prothom Alo rendered me a thought! Being a student of engineering, I was wondering if I could be eligible to meet dozens of Elite personalities of natural science! In 2009 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was dedicated to Chemistry. Textbook and web page “chemistry celebs” will be within the eyes focal length! – I dared to dream and applied through Bangladesh Lindau Council. Amidst back and forth uncertainty, I got the e-mail from Lindau council informing of my preliminary nomination. Final decision is under process! Fingers Crossed! Time is running out. Almost, I left the hope. Suddenly, yes, I received the mail form Lindau with final nomination. It was no less than “early morning call from Stockholm” (at least at my position)!

Dreams came into reality!! I found fellow participants; Shishir and Biplob are also my batch mates. So, it was only a matter of time of friendship. First time overseas trip for us. Excitement was ebullient at the Boiling Point. But, problems came as salt addition to the solution to cause Boiling Point Elevation! How could we manage the huge amount of money for the trip? Finally, Bangladesh Academy of Sciences came into play to heat up the whole thing! With its initiative, Bangladesh Academy of Sciences and North American Bangladeshi Islamic Community (NABIC) jointly sponsored three of us.

Dream finally materialized! Our rate limiting reaction had overcome the high activation energy barrier of all the monetary facts and finally reached its goal by the catalytic activity of all through aid provided by Bangladesh Academy of Science. At the end, we three had a mingle feeling- first time oversees trip to meet atleast dozens of Nobel Laureates!

It was 26th June 2009 morning. The sun shined, so did our dream! We started for the overwhelming journey to Germany. It is worth remembering, we were blessed with the warm attachment of Dr. Mesbah Uddin Ahmad and his wife Dr. Farida Akhter in the whole trip. Anyways, after the long journey, we have reached at Munich Airport at night. We didn’t even know that a little Bangladesh was waiting for us! Yes, it was Sumit Paul, BUET Graduate, now pursuing his PhD in Electrical Engineering in Germany. The more I tell about him is less! Needless to say, his hospitability reminded us of Bangladesh there. We stayed his place that night. I still can relish the taste of Mango Lassi we had at Hotel Surbahar at Munich, which all were sponsored by Sumit Paul. Next day, the whole day we the whole team roamed around the Munich City Centre and had some “Window Shopping”, as it took a lot to count euro while we convert it to Bangladeshi currency!

We, the whole team at Munich City Centre with Sumit Paul

Finally, on 27th June 2009, we reached Lindau. I never consider me as a street smart! For including some safety factor, I tried to act some smart and bought O2 Sim for communication with others within Germany. But, my bad luck couldn’t but that bad! In the whole journey, I had to count the euro for three times for this Sims. One time, Sim didn’t work, and rest two times, I lost the pin code. It results is overall 60 EURO (~ 6,000 Taka).

This was not the end; unfortunately, my hotel accommodation was far distant from the conference hall. So, I had to use the Bus to reach hall everyday. But, three times I missed the bus there! I had to call taxi to reach the conference which later costed me not less than 30 EURO! My stupidity costs a lot!

আমাদের তিন গবেষক যাচ্ছেন লিন্ডাও নোবেল সম্মেলনে

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

বাংলাদেশের দুই গবেষক যাচ্ছেন লিন্ডাও নোবেল সম্মেলনে

প্রতিবছর জার্মানির লিন্ডাও শহরে হাজির হন নোবেল বিজয়ী বিজ্ঞানীরা। তাঁদের সান্নিধ্য পেতে সেখানে যান পাঁচ শতাধিক তরুণ বিজ্ঞানী। এ বছর লিন্ডাও নোবেল সম্মেলনের বিষয় পদার্থবিজ্ঞান, রসায়ন ও চিকিৎসা। ২০০৭ সাল থেকে বাংলাদেশের তরুণ গবেষকেরা হাজির থাকছেন সেখানে। এরই ধারাবাহিকতায় এবারের সম্মেলনের দুই বাংলাদেশি গবেষককে নিয়ে এ প্রতিবেদন লিখেছেন মুনির হাসান | তারিখ: ১৮-০৪-২০১০

প্রয়াত পরমাণুবিজ্ঞানী আবদুল ফাত্তাহর প্রবল উৎসাহ এবং অধ্যাপক মুহম্মদ জাফর ইকবালের প্রচেষ্টায় ২০০৭ সালে সর্বপ্রথম বাংলাদেশের ছয়জন তরুণ বিজ্ঞানী জার্মানির লিন্ডাও শহরে অনুষ্ঠিত নোবেলজয়ীদের সম্মেলনে যোগ দেন। তাঁদের অভিজ্ঞতা আর আনন্দ নিয়ে বিজ্ঞান প্রজন্মে ছাপা হয় কয়েকটি প্রতিবেদন। সেই প্রতিবেদন পড়েন ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের প্রাণরসায়ন ও অণুপ্রাণবিজ্ঞান বিভাগের শিক্ষার্থী তানিয়া রহমান। ‘তখন মনে হয়েছিল, বাহ্, এটা তো খুব সম্মানজনক সম্মেলন, যেখানে গোটা বিশ্বের নোবেলজয়ীদের সঙ্গে তরুণ বিজ্ঞানী ও গবেষকেরা একসঙ্গে বসে তাঁদের জ্ঞান আর অভিজ্ঞতা বিনিময় করতে পারেন।’ বলেন তানিয়া। তখন থেকে নজর রাখছিলেন, কবে সুযোগ আসবে। এর মধ্যে তাঁর স্নাতকোত্তর ডিগ্রি অর্জন শেষ হয়েছে। স্নাতক (সম্মান) প্রথম শ্রেণীতে দ্বিতীয় হয়ে পেয়েছেন ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের ডিন পুরস্কার আর মাস্টার্সে প্রথম শ্রেণীতে প্রথম হয়ে অর্জন করেছেন সম্মানজনক স্বর্ণপদক।
ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের প্রাণরসায়ন ও অণুপ্রাণবিজ্ঞান বিভাগে সম্মানের (অনার্স) শিক্ষার্থী হিসেবে যোগ দেওয়ার পর থেকে এ বিষয়টির প্রতি তানিয়ার ভালো লাগা শুরু। ‘মনে হতো, এসব বায়োকেমিক্যাল বিক্রিয়া তো মানবদেহেই ঘটছে, বিষয়গুলোকে প্রাণবন্ত আর মজার মনে হতো। মাস্টার্সে তাঁর গবেষণার বিষয় ছিল কলেরা প্রতিরোধক ভ্যাকসিন ৬ থেকে ১২ মাসের শিশুদের রোগ প্রতিরোধে কী প্রভাব ফেলে তা জানা। তানিয়া গবেষণার কাজটি করেন আন্তর্জাতিক উদরাময় গবেষণাকেন্দ্র, বাংলাদেশের ল্যাবরেটরি সায়েন্স বিভাগের ইমিউনোলজি ইউনিটে। সেখানে এক বছর গবেষণা কর্মকর্তা হিসেবে কাটিয়ে ২০০৮ সালে তানিয়া তাঁর নিজ বিভাগে যোগ দেন প্রভাষক হিসেবে। বর্তমানে তানিয়ার গবেষণার বিষয় একটি নিউরোট্রান্সমিটার উৎপাদনকারী এনজাইম, ডোপেমাইন বেটা হাইড্রোক্সিলেইজ এবং বাংলাদেশের নিউরোলজির রোগীদের মধ্যে এই এনজাইমের অ্যাকটিভিটি এনালাইস করা। সমপ্রতি এ বিষয়ে তাঁর একটি নিবন্ধ প্রকাশিত হয়েছে আন্তর্জাতিক জার্নালে। এর মধ্যে তিনি নজর রেখেছেন বিজ্ঞন প্রজন্মের পাতায়। পদার্থবিজ্ঞান, রসায়ন হয়ে ২০১০ সালে সুযোগ আসে তাঁর আবেদন করার। প্রিয় পাতায় খবরটি দেখে তাত্ক্ষণিকভাবে আবেদন করেন। এর পরই জানতে পারেন, বাংলাদেশের দুজন তরুণ গবেষকের একজন হিসেবে নির্বাচিত হয়েছেন এবারের লিন্ডাও নোবেল সম্মেলনে যোগ দিতে।
যে সময় তানিয়া লিন্ডাও সম্মেলনের খবর প্রথম জানতে পারেন, ঠিক তখনই ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের এক তুখোড় তরুণ ঠিক করেন তাঁর নিজের আবেদনের। ২০০৭ সালের অংশগ্রহণকারীদের মধ্যে একজন ছিলেন তাঁর বিভাগের শিক্ষক—খাদেমুল ইসলাম; আর অন্যজন বিভাগের জ্যেষ্ঠ—তৌহিদুর রহমান। তখন থেকে অনুপ্রাণিত মাহদী মূসাকেও অপেক্ষা করতে হয়েছে ২০১০ সাল পর্যন্ত। কারণ এক বছর একটি বিষয়ের গবেষকেরা সুযোগ পান নোবেলজয়ীদের সান্নিধ্যে যাওয়ার। এর মধ্যে মাহদী মূসার জেনেটিক ইঞ্জিনিয়ারিং ও বায়োটেকনোলজি বিভাগে স্নাতকোত্তর শেষ হয়েছে। মেধাবী মাহদী স্নাতক (সম্মান) প্রথম শ্রেণীতে প্রথম আর স্নাতকোত্তরে প্রথম শ্রেণীতে দ্বিতীয় হয়েছেন। লিখে ফেলেছেন আট-আটটি গবেষণা-নিবন্ধ। বায়োটেকনোলজি থেকে বায়ো-ইনফরমেটিকস—উভয় ক্ষেত্রে অর্জন করেছেন দক্ষতা। এখন কাজ করছেন বাংলাদেশের সবচেয়ে গৌরবময় জেনেটিক প্রকল্পে। শতাধিক আবেদনকারীকে পেছনে ফেলে মূসাও তাই পেয়েছেন লিন্ডাও নোবেল সম্মেলনে বাংলাদেশের পতাকা নিয়ে যাওয়ার সুযোগ।
আগামী ২৭ জুন থেকে ৩ জুলাই জার্মানির লিন্ডাও শহরে তানিয়া আর মূসা যোগ দেবেন সারা পৃথিবীর ছয় শতাধিক তরুণ গবেষক, বিজ্ঞানী, শিক্ষকসহ পদার্থবিজ্ঞান, রসায়ন ও চিকিৎসাশাস্ত্রে নোবেলজয়ী একঝাঁক বিজ্ঞানীর সঙ্গে।

লিন্ডাও সম্মেলন
১৯৫১ সাল থেকে জার্মানির লিন্ডাও শহরে অনুষ্ঠিত হচ্ছে নোবেলজয়ী বিজ্ঞানীদের সম্মেলন। তবে সেখানে কেবল নোবেলজয়ী বিজ্ঞানীরা থাকেন না, তাঁদের সঙ্গে যোগ দেন সারা বিশ্বের বিভিন্ন দেশ থেকে একদল তরুণ-তরুণী, বিজ্ঞানকে কেন্দ্র করে যাঁরা তাঁদের ভবিষ্যতের স্বপ্ন দেখেন। প্রথম দিকে রসায়ন ও পদার্থবিজ্ঞান থাকলেও পরে এর সঙ্গে যুক্ত হয়েছেন চিকিৎসা ও অর্থনীতিতে নোবেলজয়ীরা। ২০০৯ সালের সম্মেলনে উপজীব্য ছিল রসায়ন। এর আগের বছর দুটি সম্মেলন হয়েছে পদার্থবিজ্ঞান ও অর্থনীতির। চার-পাঁচ দিনের অনুষ্ঠানের অনেকটা জুড়ে থাকে নতুন নতুন বিষয়ের তাত্ত্বিক আলোচনা, থাকে সেমিনার-সিম্পোজিয়াম। তবে সবকিছুর ঊর্ধ্বে থাকে বিজ্ঞানীদের সঙ্গে আড্ডা দেওয়ার সুযোগ, তাঁদের সঙ্গে ঘনিষ্ঠ হওয়ার সুযোগ, কাছ থেকে দেখার সৌভাগ্য!
কেবল নোবেলজয়ীরা নন, বিভিন্ন দেশ থেকে তরুণ বিজ্ঞানীদের সঙ্গে আসেন তাঁদের মেনটর বা শিক্ষাদূতেরা, তাঁরাও নাকি প্রথম সারির বিজ্ঞানী। কাজেই এ সম্মেলন কেবল জানার নয়, জানানোর ও সম্পর্ক গড়ে তোলার সুযোগও বটে।
৫০ বছর হয়ে গেলেও বাংলাদেশ থেকে তরুণ-তরুণীদের সেখানে পাঠানোর কথা ভাবা হয়নি আগে কখনো। আগেই বলেছি, ২০০৭ সালে ভিয়েনা-প্রবাসী প্রয়াত বিজ্ঞানী আবদুল ফাত্তাহর উদ্যোগে বাংলাদেশ থেকে তরুণ গবেষকদের অংশগ্রহণের উদ্যোগ নেওয়া হয়। ২০০৭, ২০০৮ ও ২০০৯ সালের চারটি সম্মেলনে এ পর্যন্ত বাংলাদেশের ১৩ জন গবেষক অংশ নিয়েছেন।

যেভাবে হলো মনোনয়ন
এবারের সমন্বিত সম্মেলনের জন্য বাংলাদেশের আগ্রহী বিজ্ঞানীদের আবেদনপত্র চাওয়া হয় ইন্টারনেটে (। উদ্দেশ্য ছিল দেশে ও দেশের বাইরে গবেষণারত সবাইকে সুযোগ দেওয়া। নির্ধারিত সময়ের মধ্যে পাওয়া সব আবেদনপত্র যাচাই-বাছাইয়ের পর লিন্ডাও বাংলাদেশ প্রাথমিকভাবে নির্বাচিত ব্যক্তিদের তালিকা পাঠিয়ে দেয় আয়োজকদের বরাবর। এভাবে সারা পৃথিবী থেকে প্রায় ২০ হাজার গবেষক আবেদন করেছেন। বিশ্বের প্রায় ৬০টি দেশ থেকে পাওয়া এক হাজার ৫০০ মনোনয়ন জমা পড়ে লিন্ডাও কমিটির কাছে। সেখান থেকে প্রায় ৬০০ জনকে নির্বাচন করা হয়েছে। এর মধ্যে রয়েছেন আমাদের তানিয়া ও মূসা।

তানিয়া ও মূসার আরও কথা
তানিয়া আর মাহদী মূসার মধ্যে একটি মিল, তাঁরা দুজনই এসেছেন চট্টগ্রাম থেকে। তানিয়ার বাবা মো. শফিকুর রহমান একজন অবসরপ্রাপ্ত উপসচিব। মা তানবীর সুলতানা গৃহিণী। দুই বোনের মধ্যে তানিয়া বড়। তাঁর এ সাফল্যের পেছনে বাবা আর মাকে এগিয়ে রাখেন তানিয়া। সঙ্গে বিভাগের শিক্ষকদেরও, ‘আমার আজকের এ অবস্থানের জন্য আমি আমার বিভাগীয় সব শিক্ষকের কাছে বিশেষভাবে ঋণী।’
মাহদীও অবশ্য মা-বাবা ও শিক্ষকদের কথা বলেছেন। তবে তিনি কয়েকজন শিক্ষকের কথা আলাদা করে উল্লেখ করেন। তাঁরা হচ্ছেন অধ্যাপক রফিকুর রহমান, অধ্যাপক হাসিনা খান ও অধ্যাপক জেবা ইসলাম সিরাজ। তিনজনই আমাদের স্বনামধন্য বিজ্ঞানী।
কুমিল্লা ফয়জুন্নেসা স্কুল, চট্টগ্রাম কলেজ হয়ে ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ে পা রেখেছেন তানিয়া। অন্যদিকে চট্টগ্রাম নাসিরাবাদ স্কুল, চট্টগ্রাম কলেজ হয়ে জেনেটিক ইঞ্জিনিয়ারিং পড়তে আসা মাহদীর। মাহদীর বাবা মুহাম্মদ মূসা ও মা সাবেরা খাতুন দুজনই চিকিৎসক। চার ভাই এক বোনের মধ্যে মাহদী সবার বড়।
বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ে এসে দুজনই গবেষণায় নজর দিয়েছেন, যার স্বীকৃতি তাঁরা পেলেন। তবে দেশের প্রচলিত শিক্ষাব্যবস্থা নিয়ে সন্তুষ্ট নন এ দুজনের কেউই। মাহদী তো উচ্চ কণ্ঠে বলেই ফেললেন, ‘আমাদের শিক্ষাব্যবস্থা মেধাবিকাশে খুব একটা সহায়ক নয়। যথাযথ সংস্কারে পরিকল্পনা গ্রহণ করা প্রয়োজন।’ এর সঙ্গে এ রকম আরও সব সুযোগ যাতে তরুণ শিক্ষার্থী-গবেষকেরা পান, সে জন্য আরও উদ্যোগ দেখতে চান তানিয়া ও মাহদী। কারণ, ‘আমাদের দেশের ছেলেমেয়েরা এ রকম সুযোগ আরও পেলে ভালো হতো। জ্ঞাননির্ভর সমাজ গড়ে উঠত।’

এগিয়ে যাওয়ার রসদ
নোবেলজয়ীদের সম্মেলনে যোগ দেওয়ার সুযোগ পেয়ে খুশি আমাদের এই দুই গবেষক। ‘সম্মেলনে নোবেল পুরস্কারজয়ী বিজ্ঞানী-গবেষকদের সান্নিধ্যে এসে আমি তাঁদের চিন্তাধারা সম্পর্কে ধারণা পেতে চাই।’ বললেন মূসা। ‘আমি বিশ্বাস করি, এই সম্মেলনে অর্জিত অভিজ্ঞতা আমার ভবিষ্যৎ শিক্ষা ও গবেষণা-জীবনে সহায়ক হবে।’ নিজের আগামী দিনের পড়ালেখা ও দেশের বায়োইনফরমেটিকস লড়াইয়ে নিজের অবদানটুকু রাখতে চান মূসা।
তানিয়া তাঁর পরিকল্পনার কথা ব্যাখ্যা করেন এভাবে, ‘আমি মনে করি, জার্মানির লিন্ডাও সম্মেলনে যোগদান আমার একাডেমিক ক্যারিয়ারের এক বিরাট অর্জন। আমার বিশ্বাস, এ সম্মেলনে যোগদান ও নোবেলজয়ীদের, বিশেষত মেডিসিন ও ফিজিওলজি-বিষয়ক নোবেলজয়ী বিজ্ঞানীদের বক্তৃতা এবং তাঁদের সঙ্গে আলোচনা আমার গবেষণা ও বিষয়ভিত্তিক জ্ঞানকে বহু দূর এগিয়ে নেবে। অদূর ভবিষ্যতে আমি স্বাস্থ্য ও রোগ প্রতিরোধবিষয়ক গবেষণা এবং উন্নয়নশীল দেশে শিশুদের মৃত্যুহার হ্রাসে অবদান রাখতে চাই।’
তানিয়া রহমান ও মাহদী মূসার মতো বিজ্ঞানী ও গবেষকদের হাত ধরে বদলাবে এ দেশ। বাংলাদেশকে বদলাতে হবেই।
আমরা বদলের যাত্রা শুরু করেছি। জ্ঞান আর শিক্ষাকে পুঁজি করে, আধুনিক প্রযুক্তিকে হাতিয়ার করে এ লড়াইয়ে আমরা জিতবই জিতব।

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Daily Star: Meeting the Nobel Prize Winners

THE “Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates” is a global rendezvous of scholars. Each year this conference is arranged to accumulate the Nobel Laureates and academicians as well as young researchers from all over the world beside the Lake Constance in Lindau, Germany. The theme of this conference is mainly four broad topics in which the Nobel Prize is awarded: Physics, Medicine, Chemistry, and Economic Science.

This scientific program encompasses various policy debates, interdisciplinary platform discussions, and lectures presented by the Laureates. It provides the scope for getting acquainted with great thinkers of this time and for experiencing cross-cultural pattern of academics. Demonstration of the groundbreaking research works by the Nobel Laureates welcomes young minds to exercise their talent and broaden their spectrum of knowledge. This conference not only deals with textbook notions but also focuses on application and implementation in real world.

In 2008 the 3rd Meeting of the Winners of the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was held by the Lindau authority in collaboration with University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. I was one of the fortunate participants in the “Young Researcher” category. It is a great honor and privilege for me to be the sole participant representing my country as well as my institution, University of Dhaka.

Apart from the two Bangladeshi participants, Dr. Abu Shonchoy (Fellow, Australian Academy of Science, Australia) and me, there was Prof. Dr. Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace prize, 2006) in the meeting of Nobel laureates as the first Bangladeshi ever.

On the first day of the event, a symphony by a group of musicians proclaimed the opening of 3rd Lindau Meetings of Nobel laureates, 2008. After the opening address by Countess Bettina Berandotte, Dr. Joseph Ackermann was declared as a new member in the Honorary Senate by the authority. Then a panel discussion was arranged highlighting “Systemic Risks in Financial markets”. The moderator was David Wessel, Editor, Wall Street Journal. The panelists were: Prof. Mcfadden, Prof Yunus, Prof Scholes and Prof Stiglitz. The inter-active discussion session was mainly focused on the financial activities of Europe and United States.

Afterwards a lecture by Prof. Yunus revealed the new possibilities of micro-credit to eradicate extreme poverty from the globe. He highlighted the theme “Social Business is the Solution”. His speech convinced the audience and gave an optimistic view to do social business, a new concept of non-profit business (to be more specific, business without any monetary benefit).

All in all, the event was awe inspiring in terms of the potentials it promised. It is a dream come true for any young researcher.

Fahim Hassan 

(Student of Economics Department, DU)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nature Video presents five short films on the future of physics.

Nature Video presents five short films on the future of physics. Recorded at the 2008 Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, these films capture the conversations between young researchers and physics Laureates George Smoot, William Phillips, John Hall, David Gross and Gerardus 't Hooft. Join them as they grapple with universal ideas including dark matter, dark energy, the Large Hadron Collider, space-time and quantum computing.

Lectures Online