Will Malaysia Have A Nobel Laureate By 2050?
Therefore I have set a more reasonable 'limit-year' for our discussion - 2050. Also we shall only consider here the prizes in the categories of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine and economic sciences. The criteria for awarding prizes in the peace and literature categories are somewhat different from the above and thus are not included.
What are the distinguishing and extraordinary qualities that a potential Nobel Laureate should have? Marie Curie (1867-1934), who shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903 and was sole winner of the 1911 Nobel Prize for Chemistry had this to say: What, in reality, are some of the qualities required of the person who aspires to success in the field of independent scientific research? The intellectual qualities are an intelligence capable of learning and understanding; a sure judgment capable of appraising the significance of theoretical and experimental demonstrations, an imagination capable of creative effort. Equally important are the moral faculties: perseverance, zeal and above all the unselfish dedication that guides the novice along a path which, in most cases, will never lead him to material rewards comparable to those offered by careers in industry or business.
By that definition alone it would be safe to eliminate 99% of the population! Jokes aside, don't you think that a conducive environment should be considered as all-important? Do we have that ideal environment here? Could that be the main reason why the developed countries seem to be hogging the prizes year in and year out? Perhaps they have learnt and know that unless the conditions are optimal, the best cannot be produced even by the most brilliant and dedicated of people.
Let us not put ourselves down by saying that our best minds are not up to it. Given the right conditions we too can shine as the finest in the world. However, again we have to go back to the policies that rule our lives in the field of education and how it stultifies rather than strengthen the intelligent mind. When at an early age if you come to realise that merit for example, has no value and that ethnicity rather than dedication, determination and intelligence is the way to go, I'm afraid that all the wrong lessons have been taught and learnt and this group won't win a Nobel prize in the next 2,020 years. Unless of course in the future there should be 'avenues' to buy our way in, as we did in participating in the F1 or even the current astronaut hoo-haa.
A Malaysian can of course theoretically win a Nobel prize from working in hundreds of centres of excellence spread all over the world. But what politics determines the working atmosphere in those places, we won't know. One question that often pops up in discussions on topics related to the above is, why is it that Singapore with all its emphasis on merit and the strive for excellence and 'perfection' and the great importance it places on providing the very best conditions, has not been able to produce even one world beater? I'm not too sure about that and if any of you would like to answer or rebut that statement you're most welcome.
With a little more than 43 years to go before 2050, we still have time to train our infants and toddlers as an entirely new and 'different' generation, brought up strictly to value merit, hard work, honesty and dedication and taught to eschew shortcuts, handouts and other devices designed to numb the brains of otherwise normal people. Then perhaps we may yet realise Dr Mahathir's dream of a Malaysian Nobel Laureate, albeit a few decades late.