When Sir Harold Kroto walked in to the Dharmendra Samurai Playground, Santacruz, all heads turned. This was the first time students and adults from the surrounding slum had the opportunity to see a Nobel Laureate.
On Saturday evening, flanked by his wife Margaret, Kyoto, 71, who was one of the three recipients to receive the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1996, addressed young students on the importance of science in society - simultaneously translated in Marathi.
Referring to inventions such as anesthesia and penicillin, Kroto said, “We need clever, young people like you to find new antibiotics of the future because there are big problems are coming up.”
Organised by the Observer Researcher Foundation as part of the ‘gurus of science’ lecture series, the aim of this interaction was to motivate students to pursue science as a career.
Displaying images of scientists such as Albert Einstein, Galileo, Charles Darwin and Subramanyan Chandrashekar that started out thinking of science problems at a very young age, Kroto urged students to question everything they see and not blindly believe in anything.
“Ninety two per cent of the scientists accept nothing without evidence,” said Kroto. “Science is the only way we know to decide if something is true with any degree of reliability.”
Talking on 'nanotechnology in the service of society, Kroto spoke of his Nobel winning work and how a human being is the best example of nanotechnology. “That's because we are assembled together atom by atom, molecule by molecule and protein by protein.”
While he said that scientists have no nationalities, he also touched upon how youngsters must take advantage of the Internet revolution - a triple revolution of Google, Youtube and Wikipedia, as he called it.
“To see a Nobel laureate and have him talk to us and respond to our questions is something we never taught we would be able to do,” said Deepak Patil, Class 10 student. “It was an inspiring talk, one that I will always hold close to my heart.”
But his most important message to students was that as scientists and engineers, they had a social responsibility. “Do not make dangerous things like the atomic bombs and weapons,” he summed.