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Nobel Week Dialogue 2019

Into the unknown: Uncertainty, risk and opportunity

December 9, 2019

Gothenburg, Sweden Nobel Week Dialogue is an event which brings together Nobel Laureates, the world’s leading scientists and experts, key opinion leaders, policy makers and the general public to bridge science and society in an opportunity to stimulate thinking and the imagination. The theme of the event held here in Gothenburg, “Into the Unknown,” encouraged the audience to embrace the uncertainties and risks in life and find ways to turn them into opportunities. The 1986 Prize-winner in Chemistry John Polanyi—who initiated a petition to make nuclear weapons illegal which was signed by 100 Laureates—pronounced, “The world is changing, but it’s an opportunity to reshape it in a positive way.” Although it’s natural to become anxious in the face of uncertainty, and I myself have been confronted with unknowing situations often in life, it’s important to remember that science and innovation (encompassing a spectrum of interpretations of how this applies to everyday life) thrive on uncertainty. As the ‘97 Physics Laureate and climate change researcher Steven Chu put it, “Having found an answer provokes more questions,” which affords us endless opportunities to become motors of investigation and inquiry to improve ourselves and the world around us. Today we celebrate the individuals who were daring and selfless, earning them Novel Prizes for their respective work that will help elevate our global citizenry and allow us to make responsible choices to secure a better future.

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