Creativity is key for a science Nobel Prize

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The science and literature prizes were awarded in Stockholm today. 2006 Nobel Laureate, Craig Mello, spoke to Science Calling and gave an insight into this process and whether he felt an Irish scientist could be on the podium in the near future.

Overwhelming, incredible and spectacular are just some of the words that Craig Mello used to describe the Nobel Week six years ago.

Each year the winners of the prize spend a week in Stockholm where they take part in lectures and festivities. Mello is back in Sweden this year for the first time since he was in the spotlight.

There are “all kinds of great events going on like the banquet where they feed a thousand people at exactly the same moment with a thousand waiters”. Here’s a brilliant time-lapsed video of this:

The Government science funding agency, Science Foundation Ireland, wants one of its researchers to win a prestigious award such as the Nobel Prize by 2020. Mello said the main ingredient we need for this is creative people.

Craig Mello sitting on the human biology panel along with other Laureates and experts yesterday
Craig Mello sitting on the human biology panel along with other Laureates and experts yesterday

In order to foster this, the UMass professor said “I actually believe we need to reform the way we educate our kids, more so than anything else”. Our current education system across the world is more like science history and contains very little hands-on real science according to Mello.

At the Nobel Week Dialogue yesterday, one of the hot topics was the need for more fundamental research funding. This has been a controversial issue in Ireland over the past number of months.

“You need to keep funding basic science because we don’t want to be frozen into this year’s technology and not have access to new breakthroughs that are really fundamental.” Mello echoed the sentiment of every prestigious scientist that spoke at yesterday’s conference.

It seems we have a lot of work to do for an Irish scientist to experience this “tremendous celebration” within the next decade.

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