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Nobel Prize Conversations

Nobel Prize Outreach AB

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Through their lives and work, failures and successes – get to know the individuals who have been awarded the Nobel Prize. The host for this podcast is Adam Smith, who has the happy task of interviewing our Nobel Laureates. – Nobel Prize Conversations is a podcast with a new episode every Thursday. Sit in on our conversations as we delve into how these personalities found their fields of interest — often by coincidence — how they view collaboration, curiosity and failure, and what keeps them ...
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How can we ensure that knowledge and science are spread globally? Medicine laureate Drew Weissman is an advocate for creating research centres around the world to give local researchers the means to have ownership and solve health issues by themselves. As Weissman puts it: ”A lot of people set up a clinic in a city somewhere, collect samples, take …
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There are many roads one can take in life. But to what extent will your life choices decide what kind of person you become? In this podcast conversation with economist and laureate Claudia Goldin, we discuss the choices that brought her to this moment in time. Our podcast host Adam Smith, who meets Goldin in the year after she received the prize in…
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Meet 2023 physics laureate Ferenc Krausz in conversation with podcast host Adam Smith, as they discuss a scientific journey which has spanned three countries – and to which Krausz attributes his Nobel Prize. ”These particles were discovered more than a hundred years before. It took an utter century to develop the tools to actually capture them in m…
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"I also thank the people who tried to make my life miserable – because they made me work harder and become more resilient." – Working harder and becoming more resilient seems to be the story of Nobel Prize laureate Katalin Karikós’s life. Despite facing a number of enormous challenges, she has never lost hope or focus. Instead she is convinced that…
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"I had decided as a child if it was possible to become a scientist and to do scientific research for a living that's what I wanted to do." – In this episode, we meet physical chemist Mario Molina who spent his life working on climate research. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1995 for his investigations into how CFC gases damage the ozone layer. M…
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”I have been fortunate to be able to live my life doing what I believe in. Not everybody has that fortune" In this podcast episode, peace activist Jody Williams tells us how she has tried to use the power that was given to her after being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. She is a strong advocate for working across organisations to solve global challeng…
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”I don't think it's my job or anybody's job to try to convince other people of the righteousness of my opinion. I think it's each person's job to figure out how they look at the world.” – This conversation with astrophysicist John Mather was recorded in 2014, where he speaks to Adam Smith about space and if we will be going to Mars in the future. M…
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”Pursuing expertise doggedly can't be the goal for everyone because being specialised means losing some breadth of understanding. We need both kinds of people." – In this podcast episode recorded in 2014 economist Robert Shiller speaks about technology and the role he thinks it will have in the future. He also shares his best advice for young econo…
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”I wasn't interested in learning stuff. I was just interested in understanding, because I could see what a fabulous shortcut it always was.” – Meet 2005 medicine laureate Barry Marshall in a dynamic talk with the Nobel Prize’s Adam Smith. Marshall tells us about his blog (something very few laureates had in 2005), his status as a yo-yo expert and h…
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”It's the insight, the work, the way you give yourself to the story that matters.” – We present a heartwarming chat with Canadian ’master of short stories’ and literature laureate Alice Munro. This conversation between the Nobel Prize’s Adam Smith and Munro took place soon after she was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. In the episode, sh…
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“I have always thought of myself as a detective,” 2023 economic sciences laureate Claudia Goldin tells the Nobel Prize's Adam Smith when speaking about her research: “The detective always believes there is a way of finding the answer!” Recorded shortly after the public announcement of her prize, this conversation begins with Goldin praising Profess…
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After the 2023 Nobel Prize in Literature was announced, new laureate Jon Fosse was inundated with messages congratulating him on the award. In this call with the Nobel Prize’s Manisha Lalloo he speaks about one particular reader who told him that his work was “the reason she was still alive.” He also shares what writing means to him and his advice …
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"This is a collaborative effort," says Louis E. Brus when asked for his first reaction to the award of the 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, "partly physics, partly chemistry, partly material science." In this conversation with the Nobel Prize's Adam Smith he pays tribute to the many contributors to the field and discusses his own motivations for expl…
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"It's the middle of the night here!" Alexei Ekimov's first reaction to hearing the news of his 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was reasonable enough: "I woke up," he says! In this call with the Nobel Prize's Adam Smith, made not long afterwards, Ekimov goes on to discuss the experiments he performed over forty years ago producing quantum effects in c…
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"I'm supposed to teach at 9 this morning," say Moungi Bawendi in this call recorded in the early morning, just after the news of his 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry had reached him, "and I'm not sure what's going to happen!" Bawendi tells the Nobel Prize's Adam Smith how he received the call, speaks about his co-laureate and mentor Louis E. Brus, and…
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“My daughter called me asking, ‘Is that true, I see it on Google?’” That was how Pierre Agostini found out he had been awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physics. In this conversation with the Nobel Prize's Adam Smith, kindly facilitated by Dawn Larzelere of The Ohio State University (whose voice is heard at the start and end), Agostini talks of his s…
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In what was surely understatement, 2023 physics laureate Anne L'Huillier described herself as "A little bit busy" when the Nobel Prize's Adam Smith reached her a couple of hours after she had received the news. In this brief call she describes how special it feels to receive the prize and how her research into the overtones of light, which she reve…
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Ferenc Krausz was preparing to give lab tours at his Institute when a call from Stockholm reached him at home. “I was not sure whether I was dreaming, or whether it’s reality,” he tells the Nobel Prize’s Adam Smith in this call recorded just after the physics prize was announced. “It’s always exciting to see something that no-one could see before,”…
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“We weren’t sure it was true!” Drew Weissman’s research partner and co-laureate Katalin Karikó called him early this morning with some incredible news – they had both been awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The two have a 20 year history of working together. "We both have sleep disturbances," he says in this conversation with t…
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The call from Stockholm woke Katalin Karikó at her home outside Philadelphia. Initially in disbelief, in this interview with Adam Smith, recorded soon after she had learnt of the award of the Nobel Prize for discoveries that accelerated the introduction of vaccines for Covid-19, she recalls her journey from Hungary and some of the setbacks on the p…
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Each year in October, Adam Smith takes on the challenge of reaching the brand new Nobel Prize laureates for a telephone interview. In this new bonus episode of Nobel Prize Conversations, Adam takes us behind the scenes for even more of these calls and his favourite moments. The host for this episode is Karin Svensson, the producer of Nobel Prize Co…
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“If you're interested in something, you'd be amazed what interest can do.” – So says Barry Sharpless, the only living individual that has been awarded two Nobel Prizes. In this rare and uniquely wide-ranging conversation, Sharpless opens up about curiosity, creativity and how he comes up with all these new ideas. The host of this podcast is Adam Sm…
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”You have to reinvent yourself every couple of years. It's absolutely important. It's necessary for me to make my life interesting. Life is too short.” – Meet physics laureate Anton Zeilinger. With an endlessly curious mind, he loves exploring new paths in the scientific field of quantum physics. He also speaks about his love of sailing and why the…
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"I settled a debate between Bohr and Einstein – which is not bad!" – Meet physicist and 2022 Nobel Prize laureate Alain Aspect, who speaks of his respect for both of these giants of physics. He also opens up about his love of teaching and explaining difficult things and shares how his teachers as well as Jules Verne's novel L'île Misterieuse sparke…
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“As an economist, I'm looking at that number and trying to think about how it fits into a broader economic picture. But on the other hand, having grown up in a small town, not a very rich town, economically very stressed place I could think about the real families, real people that those numbers represented. That was important to me.” – Meet econom…
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"The first thing I did to see if it at all would have a chance was to buy a piece of liver in the food store close to the Institute and just dry it in the laboratory." – In this episode, 2022 medicine laureate Svante Pääbo describes the start of his scientific career. He also speaks warmly about his mother and how she encouraged him to pursue his c…
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”I was just curious about everything. Everything was interesting and I always felt like I didn't have enough time to learn all the interesting things. And I think that was a big strength that I had.” – In our newest podcast episode, economist Philip Dybvig tells us how his parents encouraged his interest in the world. He shared the 2022 economic sc…
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“Your purpose as a scientist is not to achieve fame or money, that is not your purpose, those might be side effects and good for you, that could be wonderful for you but it is a side effect, it is not the main goal. The main goal is to make discoveries and gift them to humanity. And those discoveries and that knowledge stays with humanity long afte…
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“I think economics is getting closer and closer to being a respectable science. Even when we were not the most respectable science, we still needed to keep pushing forward because the topic actually matters to the planet, to the humans on the planet, and to the animals on the planet.” Douglas Diamond is a strong advocate for economics as a scientif…
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“My daughter was sitting on the second or third row and I could see that she was crying. And tears actually are contagious. So I was almost crying when I had to go up and receive the prize because of that.” — This is how Morten Meldal recalled the moment he crossed the stage in Stockholm to receive his Nobel Prize medal. Host Adam Smith speaks to 2…
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"One minute I was a teenager and the next minute I was a woman.” – Leymah Gbowee shares her heartbreaking life story of a happy childhood cruelly interrupted by the Liberian civil war. Nobel Prize Outreach's Adam Smith is your host in this encore presentation as Gbowee also talks about her constant and tireless struggle for women’s rights and peace…
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“I am very bad at giving up.” – Get to know one of the greatest minds of today, physicist Roger Penrose. Even beyond his 90th birthday he seems to be working more than ever and is engaged in various research projects. In an intimate conversation with the Nobel Prize’s Adam Smith, Penrose speaks about how 2020 was a year that gave him time to reflec…
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"It's a mixture of obsession, passion, and a sense that this is my mission." In this episode we hear 2020 chemistry laureate Emmanuelle Charpentier speak about the drive you need as a researcher and what impact awards can have on a career. Her road to the Nobel Prize was a winding journey, and she recalls how science was her stability. Charpentier …
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Nudges, sludges, and the connection between stubbornness and success. Join us for this encore presentation of our first episode of Nobel Prize Conversations, as host Adam Smith picks the brain of Richard Thaler, the 2017 laureate in Economic Sciences. Thaler's work has helped us to understand how people make choices in the real world and has also g…
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Meet astrophysicist Andrea Ghez, recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy." In this energy-packed conversation with Adam Smith, you can hear about prima donna galaxies, Ghez’s personal pet star, and how she overcame one of her biggest childhood fears. Hosted on Acas…
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What costs a billion dollars and takes 50 years to build and perfect? LIGO: A machine to detect gravitational waves. In this encore presentation of a conversation from Season 2, Kip Thorne confides, ”In the 70’s I thought we would have this done within one decade ... two decades at the most.” Predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, gr…
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“What we’re talking about here is credit.” — In this conversation, recorded the day after the announcement from Stockholm, Ben Bernanke stresses the importance of the financial system as a critical part of the broader economy, not just a 'side show'. “That’s the real insight,” he says, “that credit can help provide growth, but if the credit mechani…
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“When I woke up I had what seemed like thousands of messages” — Philip Dybvig’s phone was on silent, so he missed the call from Stockholm. When, half asleep, he did confirm the news, he recalls that his initial response was one of stress: “What’s this going to do to my life?” In this call recorded a few hours later he talks briefly to Adam Smith ab…
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“There are very few people in the world I’d rather be sitting next to when discussing these issues” — In this interview recorded just after the public announcement, Douglas Diamond, the first of the three laureates to hear the news, speaks about his happiness at receiving the economic sciences prize together with Philip Dybvig and Ben Bernanke. He …
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“Common people have a much greater impact than they can even imagine” — When asked what brings her hope, Oleksandra Matviychuk replies, “Ordinary people.” Although the challenges faced might seem insurmountable, she sees first hand how people have the power to change the status quo: “Mobilisation of common people can change world history quicker th…
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"It is incredible" — Before the public announcement of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize Olav Njølstad, Secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, called Oleksandra Romantsova, Executive Director of Center for Civil Liberties to inform her that her organisation was one of the three Nobel Peace Prize laureates for 2022. Today the Norwegian Nobel Committee…
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“You should be drawn to uncertainty” — Barry Sharpless quotes Einstein when asked about his daring approach to choosing problems: “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there’s no hope for it”. Ever inventive, he starts this conversation with Adam Smith not by talking about the work that led to his first Nobel Prize, or even to his second, but h…
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“When the world is in trouble, chemistry comes to the rescue” - As just illustrated by the Covid pandemic, says Carolyn Bertozzi, “Chemistry is such an exciting area of science for people who want to have an impact.” This call with Adam Smith, recorded immediately after the public announcement of her Nobel Prize, caught her just before the world st…
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“Reality is much more complex than we, as chemists, are able to imagine” — In the call recorded just after he had heard that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize, Morten Meldal describes how he views chemistry as a way of describing reality. It’s a field that should appeal to the young, he says, since “Understanding how everything works is a very ch…
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“What a waste of time, now start doing some real physics!” – As a young man, John Clauser set out to topple quantum mechanics, but all his faculty thought he was crazy. "I thought it was important at the time, even though I was going to ruin my career by doing it, and in some sense I did: I’ve never been a professor!" But, as he tells Adam Smith in…
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"It’s probably one of the most beautiful theories ever invented.” – Anton Zeilinger conveys his love for the elegant simplicity of quantum mechanics in this call recorded shortly after the public announcement of his Nobel Prize. “With very few symbols”, he explains, “you can explain a whole lot of things from the smallest quantum particles up to th…
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“The conclusion is, yes, quantum mechanics resists all possible attacks!” — Alain Aspect was trying to find the limit of quantum mechanics, but, as he says in this call with Adam Smith, “I didn’t find it!”. Recorded just after he had received news of his Nobel Prize, this conversation captures his thoughts about the place of his work in the long hi…
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“There were almost always other types of humans around.” In this telephone conversation recorded just after he had heard news of the award of his Nobel Prize, Svante Pääbo reflects on our relationship to extinct species of early hominins and how his exploration of their genetics might influence our view of ourselves and our place in nature. He also…
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How do you make a Nobel Prize laureate? In this special bonus episode of Nobel Prize Conversations, we explore the origin stories of these remarkable individuals. This bonus episode features the Nobel Prize's Adam Smith, who shares some of his insights after speaking to more than 150 laureates. He is interviewed by the producer of Nobel Prize Conve…
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"We must get up, we must work like maniacs – because time is running out." Maria Ressa speaks passionately as she discusses how authoritarians exploit social media to unravel democracy, what needs to be done to fight this and when she thinks the damage might become irreversible. 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa is one of the founders of …
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