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Noyori Academy Salon: For a Bright Future Ahead of Children

  • 2015/01/09
  • presented by Institute for Advanced Research

University Professor Ryoji Noyori, President of RIKEN and a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (2001), has contributed numerous articles to "Kamitsubute" in Chunichi Shimbun since January 2013. Based on the articles, he holds regular academic talks with students at Nagoya University. At the Twelfth Noyori Academy Salon, held on December 15, 2014, Prof. Noyori and four students from different backgrounds openly discussed the topic of "For a Bright Future Ahead of Children." In the "Kamitsubute," Prof. Noyori mentioned that during his childhood, Dr. Hideki Yukawa was the first Nobel Prize winner from Japan in 1949. Prof. Noyori, who was in the fifth grade of elementary school, got an inspiration by the great accomplishment by Dr. Yukawa and got further motivation to strive for a bright future. He also pointed out that back then it was assumed that the quality of a scientist's life would be determined by the level of their contributions to society.

Face Facts, Realize Reality

Yuhei Miyamoto, a second-year student at the Graduate School of Environmental Studies

When I was a child, I had no interest in society. Now, I have great motivation to build an attractive society. If we can deal with the global environmental problems ourselves, it would give meaning to our lives as well as contribute to society.

Prof. Noyori

You may think that our society today is worse than how it appeared in the past. However, today we live in a much safer environment, especially in terms of disaster prevention measures than the past. Children's enthusiasm for the future may be dampened if society frightens them by only showing the negative aspects of life.

Natsumi Kubota, a second-year student at the Graduate School of Science

I think our society has an understanding of the big issues, and we have been solving these problems. I believe that things are not always going to get worse and that we can slow down or even counter issues caused by science and technology.

Prof. Noyori

The developments of science and technology have produced many advantages that affect our lives. The biggest impact has been that our average lifespan has gotten longer. Also, human's ability gained has been expanding, and so on. At the same time, having a longer lifespan creates its own set of issues, such as an aging society with a greater need for nursing care and a pension system that works under such conditions.

Shin Suzuki, a second-year student at the Graduate School of Science

Before pursuing laboratory work, I was normally interested in social affairs. Now, I have no time for coping with such things as my days are crowded with experiments.

Prof. Noyori

Let me tell you as if it were my last wish, it is up to young people like you to build a better future. You must be the voice of reason in the leadership of the society.

Riho Hosokawa, a sophomore at the School of Science

If we don't have a chance to contact nature, we will not foster our sensibility. I have neither undergone nor faced conflicts inside of me so far.

Prof. Noyori

I do envy you. When we were small, we all experienced hunger. Our surroundings and life styles were a set and complementary to each other. We survived because we have faced and adapted to such an environment. It is significant for us to realize the current situation in our society where we live today.

Original article published in Chunichi Shimbun on December 16, 2014.


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