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Aiming at the Nobel Prize

It’s the time of the year when the Swedish Academy is awarding Nobel Prizes in various disciplines. 


The prizes have already been awarded in Medicine, Physics, Chemistry and Literature whilst the Nobel Prize in Economics will be awarded on Monday. The Nobel Peace Prize is being awarded today but traditionally in Norway.  The Nobel Prizes represent the appreciation of the society to scientists and writers for their hard work and incredible achievements that have shaped our understanding of the world around us.

On a personal note, I was so pleased to see Sir Roger Penrose being finally awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics this year. Roger Penrose, scholar from Oxford University, in addition to his work in astrophysics and topology,  has written inspiring books for non-scientists such as The Emperor’s New Mind and The Road to Reality (available in the IB College Library) that are a great introduction to physics and  science in general.


Many people believe that great theories, discoveries or inventions for which Nobel Prizes are awarded for, are a product of a single person having a moment of revelation in the spirit of “Eureka”.   Nothing could be further from the truth – these discoveries result from many years of continuous collaboration between the scientists. Only working together, exchanging ideas and verifying well known theories leads to great concepts and paradigm shifts. Such collaboration may stretch over time, even centuries or it may involve a group people working on a certain idea in a rather short period of time.  Einstein’s theories would not be possible without earlier work by Newton and Galileo and DNA would not be discovered if Watson and Crick did not work together on this revolutionary at the time idea.  Sir Roger Penrose would have not been able to come up with his ideas without relying on the work of other physicists such as Stephen Hawking. The collaboration between the scientists is being recognized by the Nobel Prize committee which, in recent years, awards more prizes to a multiple of winners rather than a single person.  

We recognize the importance of collaboration at the school at many different levels: student-student, teacher-teacher, teacher-student, teacher-parent collaborations are essential in ensuring the success of our teaching and learning programme.  Such effective collaboration will perhaps not produce any significant paradigm shifts initially but it will prepare our students for future personal and professional undertakings that might one day result in a Nobel Prize.  Good luck!

Dr Jacek Łatkowski

Vice Principal