Friday, July 9, 2010

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!

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