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As beacons of success in the scientific community, it seems strange that a few Nobel laureates in attendance at Lindau have highlighted the important role failure and frustration play in any scientific endeavour.
Upon taking to the stage this morning, Steven Chu, 1997 Nobel laureate in physics, described his early career in science as ‘a series of failures’. He discussed how, during his days as a postdoc student, he would become fascinated by a problem, only to quickly move on when spurned in his attempts to answer it.
During his talk on fluorescence microscopy, Eric Betzig, a 2014 laureate in chemistry, openly admitted that he became deeply frustrated with the path his discipline was taking and decided to leave science all together before later arriving back on the scene with a new outlook on scientific inquiry.
In a similar vein, the famed crystallographer, Dan Shechtman, likened his quest to challenge the status quo to that of a cat walking through a gauntlet of German Shepherds.
And yet, they are all here to tread the boards of the Lindau stage. Many have cited perseverance and tenacity as crucial tools in obtaining success in science, but all here at Lindau have stressed that the fortuity of having a brilliant mentor and role model is what set them on the right path. (more…)