siysskanekoMitsuaki Kaneko
Kyoto University

Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS) is an annual weeklong event for young international scientists, arranged in connection with the Nobel festivities by the SIYSS Committee of the Swedish Federation of Young Scientists with support from the Nobel Foundation.18 young scientists from 24 countries were selected as each country’s representatives and attended the events which were related to the Nobel Prize. From Japan, the Japan Prize Foundation recommends and supports two people attending for SIYSS. I was selected as one of Japanese representatives and describe what I did and learnt during the SIYSS week here.
When I talked to my supervisor about that I had been selected as a Japanese representative, he said “The invention of blue LEDs becomes candidate of the Nobel Prize every year. It will be awarded this year.” His words came true; Prof. Akasaki, Prof. Amano, and Prof. Nakamura received the Nobel Prize in Physics. I was very proud of participating in SIYSS as Japanese and very pleased as a scientist of Nitride semiconductor, which is used for LEDs.

We attended the Nobel Events, including the lectures from Nobel Laureates, the Nobel reception, the Nobel Ceremony, and the Nobel Banquet. After listening to the Nobel lectures in physics, I asked the SIYSS members how their lectures were. They told me that the lectures were easily understandable and impressive. Dr. Eric gave young researchers great words at the lecture in chemistry. Firstly, he belonged to the Bell Laboratory but quit his job. Then, he joined his uncle’s company but quit again because of bad sales. In spite of many failures, he realized his idea and got the Nobel Prize finally. At the end of lecture, he told the people, who took a risk but failed in the end, that the challenge had the meaning itself. The words struck me and I felt that I had to remember the mind to take a risk in research.

I talked to the Nobel Laureates face to face at the Nobel Reception. When I talked to Prof. Amano, I asked him what words he received when he failed the experiment from his supervisor, Prof. Akasaki, since Prof. Amano said at the Nobel lecture, “I failed the experiments more than 1500 times before the discovery of low-temperature buffer layer.” He told me that the most impressive words were “you always bring the crystals like frosted glass.” I imagined that Prof. Amano tried to obtain high-quality crustal again and again when he was a graduate student and were deeply moved by the fact that his endeavor leaded to the award of Nobel Prize. Although the projects of SIYSS members are various, such as physics, biology and mathematics, all the members enthusiastically talked to the Physics Laureate. I learned their active attitudes and I felt the dignity of Nobel Prize transcending the field of study.

In addition to the participation in Nobel Events, we gave the lecture for high-school students in Stockholm about our research during the SIYSS week. We had 5 min. for oral presentation and poster presentation like academic conferences. Although the progress was similar to conferences, I had never had chances to explain my research for high-school students and had difficulties to make my presentation clear to them. It was really different from the explanation for the researcher in my field and became great opportunity for me. After my oral presentation, one of the SIYSS members, who also worked in material science, told me that I was able to explain a complex concept and I was relieved to hear that. We didn’t have specific time to discuss our projects each other but we simultaneously started to talk about our projects during traveling time by bus or stay in the hostel. The discussion with young scientists was really meaningful. I was a graduate student and older among the members. I was amazed that the people before entering a university had scientific projects and did them enthusiastically. The representative from South Africa had the project aimed for reduction of water consumption by using antimicrobial powder for cleaning and the project seems to me to solve the problem directly related to the living in Africa. I saw it in a new light that research is for the benefit on mankind.

We also had the ethic seminar. We were divided into three groups, talked about the topic related to ethic in research, and made a presentation about the group’s conclusion in the seminar. Our topic was following, “Pharmaceuticals under development that show promising effects against aggressive illnesses could provide an edge in the fight against deadly pandemics.” We reached the conclusion that we allow it only if the patients admit the risks although we had many conflicts of opinions. Professors who major in ethic in Swedish university attended the seminar and gave us a comment on our conclusion. They told us that decision which only depends on patient’s opinions is dangerous, quoting the previous incident about not informing details about a drug. I understand that there is no definite answer in ethic but I felt that I had to continue to think about it for being a mature scientist.

I learned many things as a scientist for participation in SIYSS. It definitely became once experience in my life. All the members of SIYSS were unique and clever. I resolved to be a scientist not losing to them. I truly appreciated science which made us gather in Stockholm and felt the greatness of science which doesn’t matter nationality or human race. I’d like to appreciate the Japan Prize Foundation, local organizers, who had prepared for SIYSS for a whole year, my supervisors and coworkers.


With Shuji Nakamura, winner of Nobel Physics Prize

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