What the 19-0 score card means
Three Japanese-born scientists won the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for the invention of blue-light emitting diodes, which has contributed to the global employment of environmentally and energy-efficient light sources. It is the first time the Royal Swedish Academy has recognized the benefits of a scientific invention, raising flexibility in the nomination process that had previously been confined to basic science.
The academy said in a statement that although LED invention is just 20 years old, “it has already contributed to creating white light in an entirely new matter to the benefit of us all.”
The latest feat raises the number of Nobel laureates born in Japan to 19, which includes 17 Japanese citizens. As a neighboring country, we can only envy this accomplishment.
Korea has never produced a Nobel laureate, and Internet users compared the difference to a 19-0 score board. We tend to compare ourselves incessantly with the Japanese due to our traditional rivalry and bitter historical ties. Winning a Nobel Prize is like winning a gold medal in the Olympic Games. A laureate raises public interest and national investment in science. It also motivates more young people to become scientists and compete for research that could help advance related fields.
A Nobel Prize can only be won by a passion and devotion to science, and cannot be achieved like a business project or through a war-like strategy.
But there is no need to fret over international prestige. We must draw more interest and investment in science and technology on our own. New inventions can generate new growth and make our future better.
Society must be more appreciative of scientists and engineers. Students shun science and engineering fields because it is a field where success is minimal. Few scientists can pursue creative research and development because the industry demands tangible results. The government must draw up a long-term blueprint to promote science and technology. A Nobel Prize in basic sciences can represent not only the country’s scientific level, but also national standards and future potentials.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 9, Page 30