JSPS awards for eminent scientists
 

I

Academic Responsibility and Our Future

Richard R. Ernst

Laboratorium für Physikalische Chemie
ETH Zürich
Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 10, HCI
8093 Zürich, Switzerland

The lecture emphasizes the importance that academics and academic institutions carry in shaping a beneficial future for all global citizens. They are the educators and motivators of the leading heads of future generations in politics, business, and academia. At our universities, a new spirit shall be developed that is based on cooperation, foresight, and compassion in order to counterbalance our pervasive money-mindedness and our egomaniac cravings for materialistic goods that led to the present global disarrays. The mission of universities goes far beyond the education of specialists and the stimulation of industry by the development of novel products. More important is the willingness to serve society by addressing the long-term issues. Many of these issues can not be tackled by technology alone but require a more comprehensive and considerate approach. The best advice that can be given at present is contained in the Imperative of Responsibility by Hans Jonas: “Act so that the consequences of your action are compatible with the permanence of genuine human life on Earth.”

II

Fascinating Insights in Chemistry,
Biology and Medicine by NMR

Richard R. Ernst

Laboratorium für Physikalische Chemie
ETH Zürich
Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 10, HCI
8093 Zürich, Switzerland

During the past decades, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) has developed into a most powerful tool for obtaining revealing insights into chemical systems and processes, into the secrets of molecular biology and the function of proteins and nucleic acids, and into the human organism for understanding the functioning of organs, for studying the metabolism, for exploring the human brain, and, most importantly, for diagnosing diseases in clinical medicine. A survey on the possible applications and on the multitude of highly sophisticated techniques will be given.

III

NMR and its Nobel Glory

Richard R. Ernst

Laboratorium für Physikalische Chemie
ETH Zürich
Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 10, HCI
8093 Zürich, Switzerland

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) experienced quite remarkable progress during its past. Starting from a curious physics experiment, apparently of little practical usage, it became one of the most powerful analytical tools of science with applications that proved to be indispensable in chemistry, biology, and medicine. Some of its spectacular applications will be discussed.

The growing importance of NMR has been recognized by the Nobel Committees in Stockholm. Already eight Nobel Prizes were awarded for achievements in NMR. Several Nobel Laureates, who significantly contributed to NMR, received their prizes for innovations in other fields. Additional Nobel Prizes were given for ground-breaking scientific achievements that proved to be seminal for NMR. This lecture traces the various contributions of those who have been honoured, mentioning also some of those who would have had equally deserved to receive this honour.

The lecture illustrates the emergence of relevant science results from a multitude of contributions, some of which are serendipitous and others based on a creative engineering approach. Collaboration and interaction being of seminal importance in science.

IV

The Importance of the Fourier Transformation
in Spectroscopy.
From Monsieur Fourier’s Calculus to Medical Imaging

Richard R. Ernst

Laboratorium für Physikalische Chemie
ETH Zürich
Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 10, HCI
8093 Zürich, Switzerland

The lecture is devoted to the relevance of the Fourier transformation in science. Its importance is fundamental to any experimental exploration where input-output relations are being exploited. Experimental results, obtained in a time-domain experiment, need to be transformed into the frequency domain for comprehension, and data from momentum space investigations require a transformation into the geometric space for visualizing the results.

Fruitful applications are plentiful. The first practical usage of the Fourier transformation in spectroscopy took place in optical interferometry, starting with the investigations by A.A.Michelson. Later, magnetic resonance, especially NMR, profited enormously from applications of the Fourier transformation. Molecular and medical imaging experiments, using x-rays and magnetic resonance are today among the most prominent applications of the Fourier transformation. Particularly promising is functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) for the better understanding of brain functions. A survey on these exciting possibilities is presented.

V

My Pathway into Science and Beyond

Richard R. Ernst

Laboratorium für Physikalische Chemie
ETH Zürich
Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 10, HCI
8093 Zürich, Switzerland

In this lecture, I will narrate my scientific life story. The pathway into science was not exempt from ups and downs. Fascination and doubts kept themselves in balance. But looking back, my life was guided by a long sequence of lucky events that led to historical developments in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. The overwhelming success of NMR in molecular biology and in clinical medicine came as a full surprise. Much future development of magnetic resonance can be expected, for example in exploring the detailed functioning of the brain by functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Involvements in other aspects of life are essential for complementing the fascinating activities in science. I will mention, as an example, my active interest in Central Asian art. It was of seminal importance for stimulating my scientific creativity.

The broadening of the scope of researchers beyond traditional science is also relevant in the context of our responsibilities for shaping a beneficial future of our world. Universities, that educate future generations of leaders in science, business, and politics are supposed to develop also a novel spirit for solving the most important problems of future societal relevance.

VI

Tibetan Painting Art
Pigment Analysis by Raman Spectroscopy.

Richard R. Ernst

Laboratorium für Physikalische Chemie
ETH Zürich
Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 10, HCI
8093 Zürich, Switzerland

This lecture bridges the gap between science and traditional culture. It demonstrates the utility of science methods for the analysis of our precious heritage in view of its appreciation and its conservation. The usage of Raman spectroscopy is demonstrated on Tibetan thangka paintings and put in the context of the historical and geographical development of Central Asian painting art. The lecture tries to convey the fascination of the author for Tibetan painting art. Obviously, there is also a strong relation to Japanese Buddhist painting art. The passion for Central Asian art shall also exemplify the need of scientists to widen their horizon beyond their professional activities when they want to stimulate and maintain their own creativity.

 
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