The 2007 Kyoto Prize
11 /11 Sun
Place：Kyoto International Conference Center
The 2007 Kyoto Prize Kyoto Prize Laureates
My Journey in Chemical Research—Learning from People and Things
Abstract of the lecture
My journey in the field of chemical research began in April 1947, when I entered the laboratory of Professor Jitsusaburo Sameshiima as a third-year student in the chemistry department of the Faculty of Science in the University of Tokyo. As it was shortly after the end of the war, the laboratory was in a pathetic state and virtually devoid of newly published materials; but Professor Sameshima and my senior colleagues, who engaged in direct instruction, were veritable treasure troves themselves. My journey therefore began with learning from people. This has not changed right up to the present, some 60 years later. The story of this interaction with people is at the same time the story of my journey. It contains interludes of scolding and even stern lecturing as well as encouragement. Here, I would like to take up one of these interludes and comment on what are precious memories to me as my subject today. Specifically, I would like to share a poem that was composed by Professor Hideo Akamatu, another professor to whom I am deeply indebted, on the occasion of the gathering to celebrate my 60th birthday during my days at the Institute for Molecular Science (1975 to 1996): "Looking back, the bountiful harvest of autumn comes only after the toils of spring and summer." I also make a point of learning from things. Chemistry is a science of making substances and learning about their essences. In this sense, my first encounter came with measuring the electrical resistance of carbon blacks as the theme of my graduate research. The suggestion that the carbon blacks areconstantly combusting provided the key drive for my foray into the territory of organic semiconductors, my lifelong research theme. Taking natural and synthetic together, there are nearly 100 million types of substances (or things) on the face of the earth. People who major in chemistry do their utmost to synthesize a new type. At this point, I would like to mention how, since the dawn of history, our ancestors contributed to human advancement by learning from natural things or, in other words, from nature. I also want to describe how what they learned in this way was correct even when viewed in the light of modern chemical knowledge. Let us take the case of dyes. Some textiles on 1,500-year-old artifacts stored in Nara's Shosoin repository were dyed using safflower and saffron. Only recently, well over a thousand years later, scientists have determined that the molecular structures of such dyes, which our ancestors discovered empirically, were optimal for dyeing. Dyes are only one example. Penicillin; smallpox vaccine; and chemical condiments derived from Japan's research, the kind of research in which it takes great pride, are all examples of substances isolated from compounds that were born by learning from nature. I have high hopes that we will be able to bequeath human knowledge intact to succeeding generations, learn from the things in nature brimming with wonder, and maintain the health of the earth in a balanced manner.
Falling in Love with Waves
Abstract of the lecture
I was born in 1936 as the 6th child of the family. My parents let me explore things in my own way. Also, because of the war, in my childhood, I had no regular classes, no books, nothing to write on, and no one to ask questions. Through this experience, I gained the habit of thinking myself first before I ask someone or consult books, and coming up with a solution myself. I think I retained this basic attitude throughout my professional life. By the time I got to high school, it became obvious that my interest was in science. Also, having been awed by majestic sceneries of Japan Alps I saw during my childhood, I became interested in knowing how nature works to build mountains. The combination of my interest in science and the force of nature eventually sent me to geophysics at college. As I learned wave equations in physics, I began to have strong desire to study earthquakes and volcanoes using waves. Using wave I could also study other processes such as shock waves generated by space shuttles, and perturbations of the Jupiter's atmosphere caused by a comet impact. It was wonderful to be able to study all these spectacular natural processes which I had been curious about since my childhood. In the mid 1980s, I began to think how I can contribute to the benefit of our society using the scientific knowledge we have gained. I thought about using real-time information of earthquakes for seismic damage mitigation. With many of my colleagues, we developed several effective ways to use real-time information for practical mitigation purposes. The CUBE (Caltech-USGS Broadcast of Earthquakes) system developed in southern California is one of them. I am very lucky that I have been able to do what I really liked to do. If I have any advice to the next generation, "Do what you like best and do not let the desire for wealth and fame dictate your life".
What Moves Me
Abstract of the lecture
I am going to give an account of my life, in a very personal way, with lots of small experiences and events. I shall include my early childhood in Solingen, the town where I was born in 1940. This period was very much shaped by the war: the air raids, going into the shelter, the whole fight for survival. My parents had a small hotel and a restaurant. Some of the guests - singers from the nearby theatre - noticed my suppleness and my love of movement. One day they took me with them to the children's ballet. I soon realized this was what I wanted to do - this was my form of expression, my language. I wanted to become a dancer. At the age of 14, I went to Essen to study dance at the Folkwangschule. What made it so great and unique was the fact that both the performing and fine arts were taught under one and the same roof. Hence music, opera, drama and dance were alongside painting, sculpture, photography, graphic design, etc. Cross-fertilization happened as a matter of course, so that you learned about and became aware of something from every discipline. Many projects came into being. This creativity had a great influence on my later work. As did my studies in New York. It was the great period of dance. Working with so many unusual teachers and choreographers and the wealth of adventures and experiences - all coexisting alongside each other - left a very deep and important impression on me. That is why I found the decision to accept the offer of returning to the newly founded Folkwang Ballet a very difficult one to make. I danced, had lessons, did my first choreography and then later took of the directorship of this company - again there were many new experiences and a great deal of responsibility. Since 1973 we have been on the stages in Wuppertal - the Tanztheater Wuppertal. There I have gone a long way with my dancers. Every day, in full view of the public, we undertake voyages of discovery - into ourselves and into the world around us. Exciting, often very difficult and painful, yet still pleasing. Almost forty pieces have been produced so far - many coproductions with towns and cities in other countries. In every set of circumstances there have been challenges and crises. I shall attempt to recount these. At the same time I shall tell of the very difficult and apparently hopeless situations and how something new and revolutionary developed for our work.