PANAJI: Stating that being a scientist provides a person with freedom of thought, the French Nobel Laureate, Prof Jean-Marie Lehn on Friday said that spiritual theories are nice and he personally has nothing against them, however, they have to be proved before placing belief in them. “I am a terrible rationalist, you know,” he added.
Prof Lehn, a French chemist, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with Donald Cram and Charles Pedersen in 1987 for his synthesis of cryptands, is on a Goa visit and delivered a lecture before the students of the department of chemistry of the Goa University on Friday, at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee stadium. The lecture touched upon issues including evolution of the universe and role of molecular matter in this evolution.
Prof Lehn, one of the earlier innovators in the field of supramolecular chemistry, later addressing a press conference said that there are various theories as regards evolution of the universe dating from ancient times to modern age, and furthermore, the scientists of different era have come out with theories on life, conscience, thinking and so on. “However, you have to prove them right,” he observed, maintaining that many of the theories are unreasonable, while some are build on scientific knowledge.
Prof Lehn said that he has no idea as to why no Indian won the Nobel Prize in science after Independence of India. “There are quite a few people here, who are somewhere on the line (to win the Nobel Prize),” he noted, mentioning that many Indian scientists should have actually won the coveted prize in the field of chemistry.
Replying to a question, Prof Lehn said that young people in India have shown interest in pure science, which is an area of human knowledge. “Just like we need artistes, painters and so on in our midst, we also need scientists among us,” the Nobel Laureate said, pointing out that for earning money, one can move to any another type of profession, but being a scientist provides one with fulfilment. “If you have a passion for science, then you have to take it up, if you can, subject to financial conditions of one’s family,” he mentioned.
“We need people, who develop basic scientific knowledge,” Prof Lehn said, stating that without basic results there is no application. “Some people are working on the origins of life, but although we can imagine the way it had happened, there is little chance for us to go back,” he added, noting that one can make this research reasonable, one can test ideas, and finally, one can deduce as to why it is like this and not in a different way.
“My lectures never have an end point,” the Nobel Laureate said on a parting note, while observing that we are living in the age of modification. “This can be witnessed right from apples, which are modified by agricultural techniques to the genetically modified drugs,” he stated, quipping that in the age of modification, everyone is comfortable with Vitamin C, but Ascorbic Acid, which is one form of Vitamin C, sounds terrible.
The vice-chancellor of Goa University said that Prof Lehn was invited under the visiting professor programme of Goa University. “This programme invites reputed people to Goa University, for interacting with the students,” he added.