Posted on August 03, 2013
Having been given the chance to personally talk to Nobel prize winners, Dr Heinrich Badenhorst describes the event as unforgettable.
"We were given the opportunity to attend a variety of lectures on the past and current work of the laureates. In addition, there were several occasions where we could interact with laureates on a more personal, one to one basis, including dinner events.
For me the most remarkable experiences were the lectures by Prof Gerhard Ertl and Prof Robert Curl. Prof Ertl discovered the mechanism of the Haber-Bosch process, one of the most significant industrial reactions that produces ammonia for fertilizer. He is still doing groundbreaking research on transient surface complex formation using STEM.
Since I work in the field of carbon, it was particularly inspiring to meet Prof Curl who is the co-discoverer of the Buckminster fullerenes. During his presentation he mentioned that at first they struggled to come up with the structure of this material. Finally, his colleague Prof Kroto fashioned a plausible structure using a "stardome". It was fantastic to learn such special details surrounding the discovery that led to the Nobel prize and to realise that these scientific giants are also just normal people.
I seriously encourage other young researchers to attend this event. The whole experience has left me with a sense of awe at what is achievable but has renewed my passion for my own work. Who knows, maybe one day I can go back and present my great discovery!"
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