The 2015 Nobel Laureate of literature Svetlana Alexievich captured my heart with her “Voices of Chernobyl”, I was drawn to BBC’s “Nobel Mind’ Roundtable because I wanted to hear what she had to say.Yet I was enlightened by the way of thinking honestly shared by other Nobel Laureates in economics or the various sciences on issues of life and the world.
There was a common thread in their research: it is curiosity or the passion to understand science, things or how the world works and to resolve paradox. Some mentioned the interest in scientific challenge. None set out to win the prize or even help anyone out of compassion. Three of them gave up their original career as doctor after a year or two. The economist Angus Deaton’s statement on the real reward that was most memorable, “it is the Aha moment when only God and I understand the process” . For Svetlana Alexievich, it is to understand human nature or history of the human soul.
When the issue of inequality was discussed, the Turkish Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. Aziz Sancar, was very direct in pointing out it was the free education in Turkey that made his career possible. He came from a family of eight children with illiterate parents. He could not understand why universal healthcare or even Obama Care would be such a big problem in his adopted country of US when everyone in Turkey has been taking it for granted for decades.
“Talk of benevolence and righteousness and the path of right and wrong are all entangled. How can I discern them? ” Chuang Tzu.
The economist Angus Deaton discounted foreign aid to developing countries, he thought the money should go to people like the Nobel Laureates in medicine to conduct research and find solutions to River Blindness or Malaria helping millions of people in the underdeveloped world. The outspoken Turkish Laureate turned to William Campbell the expert on tropical parasites and called him the hero he most envies.
William Campbell is not only a scientist but also poet and painter on worms.
The BBC moderator commented on the paradox of his love for worms and the success of his research in killing them. He advocated for the worm as simply “doing what they do” and not the villain out to make people blind. The program ended with his crying out loud in the worm’s shoe, “I don’t need your god damn eye, I just need a piece of skin big enough to drop a few larvae so there is a pickup and delivery.”
“All life is but simply what is and all appear to be doing what they rightfully should.”Chuang Tzu.
When asked about how Nobel Prize would change her life, Svetlana Alexievich said it would not even though the responsibility may seem greater. Imprinted in my mind are her simple lines of “you just do what you do, you do it as well as you can” and “freedom matures in ourselves” (referring to false expectation of freedom in Russia when asked about Ukraine her motherland).
The noble mind is simple and true to one’s nature or passion and not determined altruism to save the world.Good outcome are just window dressings.