Panaji: UK-based researcher Richard J Roberts, who won the Nobel Prize in the field of physiology or medicine in 1993, feels that luck plays a significant role in winning the award.Roberts is in Goa to participate in the three-day-long Nobel Prize Series organised by Nobel Media, a wing of Nobel Foundation, which bestows the coveted award.
“During my interaction with the students, I have a standard lecture which I call as a path to the Nobel prize.But the most important part of my talk, from my perspective, is that I emphasise the importance of luck. When something lucky happens, you need to take advantage of it,” Roberts said.
“What it takes to win the Nobel prize is luck, it’s absolutely true. The kind (of) big discoveries that makes you to the Nobel prize are not something that you can say ‘well, I am going to make this discovery’,” he said.
“You are working in some areas, you are asking some questions and maybe the answers might turn out to be very important. Or maybe it might be of less importance and yet another piece of knowledge, but very often when you ask these questions something happens.
“You might get into something. New phenomenon comes up (that) you did not know before and you follow that,” the Nobel prize winner said.”If you ask most of the Nobel laureates they will say the same thing that they were working in an area and they discovered something that they were not expecting,” Roberts said.
Speaking about the life after winning the Nobel prize, Roberts said, “The main thing that changed is that I get invited to go and talk to people and visit exotic places.
That’s the principal change that took place.”
“Still, I am a normal scientist (after winning nobel).
But I believe that science should be pushing to try to make difference in the world, because people do listen to us,” he said.
Roberts was critical of the fact that some of the discoveries are not helping the mankind because of certain factors related to the corporates.
Referring to the pharmaceutical companies, he said the companies are not interested in providing the cure.
“That is the worst thing that can happen. If you (researcher) have a very good drug on something and you find it as a way to cure the disease then you can’t sell the drug (to the company) anymore,” he added.
“That’s okay. But I am objecting when pharmaceutical companies say that they are interested to find something that is going to cure, but I feel that they are not (interested),” he added.
“It is disheartening when a researcher sees that his research is not benefiting the mankind. I feel whatever you discover should help the people,” he said.
When asked about the Nobel prize event which is currently held in India, he said the Nobel Media events which are put up are like dialogues.
“Mostly, when I travel, I just give talks, so people listen. Nice thing about this is that there are interactions between speakers, we can talk about the things that we know about. We can ask one another questions, and then we can respond to questions from the audience when they come in,” he said.
“That’s nice, because I like being asked questions that I don’t know the answers to, sometimes that makes you to think about the different things,” he added.