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Communication with Nobel Prize laureates
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16:30, June 25, 2008

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Media has played an important role in promoting basic science to the public and surely the Nobel Prize has helped to popularize science, said Professor Peter Agre, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 2003.

He and Professor Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate in Physics 2004 held a discussion on the public communication of the Nobel Prize on Monday with about 50 journalists and scientific researchers at the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.

Before the 10th global conference on Public Communication of Science and Technology to be held in Malmo, third largest city in Sweden on Wednesday, the two Nobel Laureates were invited to share their experiences with media before and after they won the Nobel Prize.

"Of course it was the Nobel Prize that made me known, it was not I as a person who is well known. Suddenly I was as popular as a football coach." said Peter Agre in a very humorous way.

Professor Wilczek who was a second generation of immigrants from Poland to America described his feelings after hearing the news that he won the prize. He said it was more the personal aspect that the public are more interested in them.

They are often asked how their family is, what is their background and how much time they spent with their family and so on.

Maybe this is also part of the story that stimulates the young people to be interested in science, said Wilczek.

Being asked whether the journalists really understand them, Wilczek said some mainstream media journalists are better.

The most frequently asked questions are 'how will you spend the money you won?'

Some say they give it to their wife and some say they will rebuild their house.

Another question is that sometimes the media are not very accurate about science or what scientists say. The answer is that it depends on what kinds of media and how much time the journalists are given. The more time they have, the more they should be accurate.

But anyway, science needs media, concluded Professor Agre. And from the journalists' point of view, scientists should be able to describe what they are doing in a simple way.

During the two day meeting, they also introduced how the Nobel Prize is elected and the rules about it. Nobel Prize is the highest award in science so far in the world.

By Xuefei Chen People's Daily Online correspondent in Stockholm.

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