The 2003 Kyoto Prize
11 /11 Tue
Place：Kyoto International Conference Center
The 2003 Kyoto Prize Kyoto Prize Laureates
All in the Family: The Human Side of Guiding Academic Research
Abstract of the lecture
Research is an enormously useful and important activity. The objective of research in science and engineering is to understand and manipulate the physical world. When successful, and in the best cases, research provides the solution to problems that benefit individuals and societies. As the problems of society become more difficult to solve, finding their solutions becomes more difficult. Research is also a human activity. It is carried out by people—people with different backgrounds, skills, and interests. For researchers—people—to do their best work, they must have the best environment: people to work with, resources, achievable objectives. Research in universities is an important part of the system of research—conducted in universities, companies, and government—that generates understanding and leads to practical solutions to problems. Universities also play a unique role in educating the next generations of researchers. University-based research is largely focused on the science, and pays relatively little explicit attention to the people who produce the science. Both the research, and the researchers who conduct the research, are important. I suggest three reasons why universities should emphasize more strongly the human dimensions of research. First, this emphasis would directly strengthen research that requires the integrated efforts of groups of researchers from different backgrounds or from different fields. Second, it would improve the environment for all types of research. Finally, it would—over the long term—shift the style of research in universities from the historical model of "one professor, one student, one problem, one thesis" to a broader and more flexible system of "many colleagues." The latter is the better for addressing complex problems, and may produce more creative researchers.
Curiosity as a Career
Abstract of the lecture
When I was a child, I knew no greater pleasure than, for instance, having the mysteries of a steam engine explained to me. I was delighted that there was a direct way of understanding the mechanism in terms of pushing and pulling, something familiar to a child. My parents indulged my curiosity with explanations, a microscope, and the reading of many books. When I was 16 years old, I had a year of physics in school and realized that the subject underlies all physical phenomena. I decided then that I would pursue physics as a career. I went off to Michigan State University to study physics and mathematics, graduating in 1948 and going on graduate study at the California Institute of Technology, where I earned the PhD in 1951. I came on the scientific scene more than fifty years ago, at a time when advances in technology and scientific instrumentation were opening up geophysics, space physics, astrophysics, and galactic physics to a degree no one could have anticipated. By the time I got into it, the magnetic field of Earth was unambiguously attributed to the convecting liquid iron core of Earth. The magnetic field of the Sun was soon mapped, cosmic rays were analyzed as mostly protons, and their intensity variations were measured. It was all there for the aspiring physicist to think about. And it has been gratifying over the years to see so many of the puzzles finding scientific answers. Nor is the excitement over with. The discovery of new mysterious phenomena continues to run well ahead of our ability to figure out their nature. For all of the progress in theoretical understanding, some of the old mysteries, e.g. the origin of sunspots, the precise nature of the solar dynamo, etc. remain unsolved after all these years. The newer puzzles include such things as the Maunder Minimum in solar activity and the remarkably strong connection of terrestrial climate to the general level of magnetic activity on the Sun. This has become a crucial issue today in the context of global warming, and we need to know much more about the origins of terrestrial climate if we are to make intelligent decisions about global warming. There is a lot of thinking and measuring and observing ahead of us, with no end in sight. There are endless new vistas about which to be curious.
Man of Bunraku
Abstract of the lecture
The culture of men in any field inevitably involves competition.As a result, male-dominated environments are typically rife with such feelings as envy, jealousy, resentment, and spite—perhaps to a greater extent than are feminine realms. The world of Bunraku is probably no exception. In reviewing long career of Tamao Yoshida, however, it appears that he has somehow managed to escape this destiny. Indeed, Tamao seems to have remained completely divorced from such matters. How can this have been possible? I was struck with the answer to this question when I heard Tamao say, "People tell me that I am very quick to the point."Tamao's compendiousness results from his practice of omitting everything unnecessary and focusing only on his work, without allowing himself to be distracted. Tamao is not a naturally dexterous person. Nor is he capable of false flattery. Knowing this, he vowed to himself early on to put his work first, believing that his only hope was to focus all effort on manipulating his puppets, perfecting his artistry, and pleasing his audience. Tamao's achievements today are the result of his faithful adherence to this tenet. He must have been entirely indifferent to such familiar aspirations as gaining fame by succeeding the name of a famous predecessor, but it is this humility that makes his art almost unbearably beautiful. Tamao's puppetry places strong emphasis on interpretation of the essence of his characters, which he does with a dignified allure and an economy of movement. Over the years, he has cultivated the polished quality of his art into an extraordinary refinement. If likened to a Bunraku puppet head, Tamao's sensitivity might be represented perfectly by the head "Komei." The title of this lecture, "Man of Bunraku," refers not only to Tamao himself but also to each of the roles he plays, as Tamao specializes in male parts. Through today's lecture, I hope the audience will gain a deeper understanding of the philosophy and the gentle personality of this man who has devoted his life to Bunraku.
(By Shizuo Yamakawa, interviewer)